This is the year that we expect IPv6 to become more pervasive, if only to meet the growing demand for IP addresses from China.
There are now more than 500 million internet users in China, soaking up more than 330 million IPv4 web addresses. That might seem a drop in the ocean (when IPv4 can theoretically support 4.29 billion addresses), but it's the potential for that number to grow that's the concern. While US allocations are slowing, China's are on the increase. The US last led the league table for allocations in 2008. Last year, China allocated 53 million IPv4 addresses, 2.6 times the number of allocations in the US.
(Credit: Phil Dobbie/ZDNet Australia)
China's middle class is already larger than the entire population of the United States. In 15 years, it is forecasted to reach 800 million. Despite this, so far only 32 per cent of the population access the internet. Much of this comes via mobile devices — China is the world's largest user of mobile devices, and more than half of these are being used to access the internet.
This all points to enormous future demand for internet access in China. Over the next few years, we will see more people connected, with growth in the use of multiple devices — all of which increases the demand for IP addresses. If per capita demand was to reach the US level of 5.5 IP addresses per person (China currently stands at just 0.26) China would need another 6.7 billion addresses, far more than the entire IPv4 range.
Even without this demand, IPv4 has already hit the wall. According to the Number Resource Organisation, we officially ran out of IPv4 addresses in February last year, and, while we can survive for a while using various mitigation techniques, at some point the world needs to move swiftly to IPv6.
That's why the countdown is on for the world IPv6 launch day on 6 June 2012. Google, Bing, Yahoo and Facebook will all turn on their IPv6 capability on that day. Perhaps Beijing would be a suitable location for the launch party.