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3 things to know about IPv6 as World IPv6 Day approaches

Yes, June 6th is World IPv6 Day. No, you don't need to panic.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

Vince Cerf, one of the Internet's fathers, wants you to use IPv6.

Vint Cerf, one of the Internet's fathers wants you to switch to IPv6

June 6, 2012, World IPv6 Day, is almost upon us. On that day, many major ISPs and Web sites will add IPv6, the next generation Internet protocol, to their existing network stacks. So: Should you start panicking now or should you wait a bit?

Actually, you don't need to panic at all. Come the morning of June 6, the sun will still rise in the east, kitty cats will still purr in your lap when you pet them, and the Internet will continue to work just fine after you boot up your computer.

What will have happened on that day is that numerous major ISPs, such as Comcast and Time-Warner Cable, and Web sites, including Facebook, Google, and Microsoft, will offer their services with IPv6 in additional to “classic” IPv4. All these major Internet powers have been working on deploying IPv6 for years, and there's no reason to believe that a mass roll-out of IPv6 is going to cause any Internet trouble.

Specifically, on World IPv6 Day:

1) Many major ISPs will offer IPv6 to a few residential users.

The ISPs participating in the World IPv6 Launch have promised to enable IPv6 for enough users so that at least 1% of their residential wireline subscribers who visit participating Web sites will do so using IPv6.

Why only 1%? It's because the Internet Society knows most people aren't ready yet. As the Society explains, “The goal is to reach 1% by June. In many cases, users may need to upgrade or replace hardware and software, such as operating systems or home routers, to use IPv6. Over time, as users upgrade, IPv6 adoption will increase without any changes in the ISP’s service or equipment.”

Don't let all that "upgrade and replace" talk scare you. The Internet will work the same on June 6th as it does on June 5th. To quote Sampa Choudhuri, a Cisco small business marketing manager, “Your current network running IPv4-based devices won’t be obsolete for some time.

Don't believe us? Check out your PC on OMG! World IPv6 Day and you'll probably feel much better.

Eventually, you do need to move to IPv6. But for many of you the transition won't even happen this decade. As Leslie Daigle, the Internet Society's chief technology officer recently said, IPv6 is becoming “the new normal.

She's right. So, while there's no need to get worried as an Internet user about IPv6 yet, it is time for you to start checking your system and connection to see if you're IPv6 ready. The best way to do that is to use the Test Your IPv6 site.

2) SOHO networking Original OEMs will offer IPv6 compliant equipment.

Most up-to-date corporate networking equipment already either supports IPv6 or can be upgraded to support it. Home IPv6 hardware... not so much. Starting on June 6th, however, several home networking equipment manufacturers will begin to enable IPv6 by default across their range of home router products.

That sounds good, but at this point only Cisco/Linksys, D-Link, and ZyXEL have signed up. Other SOHO network vendors, like NETGEAR, has IPv6 for some, but not all, of their network equipment lines.

3) Major Web sites will offer IPv6 on their main Web sites.

Many of the world's top Web sites, including Bing, Facebook, Google, and Yahoo, will permanently support IPv6 on their main sites They are not, let me repeat myself, not turning off IPv4.

The only people who are likely to have trouble reaching these sites are those who've already installed IPv6, “but are either using a public tunnel that is currently giving poor performance; or otherwise have a route that is installed but broken or suboptimal.” You can find out if that might happen to you by visiting the aforementioned Test Your IPv6 site.

To learn if you need to worry, on June 6, go to a Web site, such as Google or any of the others that are supporting both IPv4 and IPv6. These offer DNS (Domain Name System) records for IPv4, A, and IPv6, AAAA. If you have a bad IPv6 connection such "dual stack" Web sites will appear to time out on you.

There are numerous foul-ups that can cause this hang-up. Fortunately, there's an excellent guide, What to do if you're broken... that can help you find and fix your particular problem.  If worse comes to worst, you can always just turn IPv6 off. After all, like I said, at there's no reason for anyone to panic about IPv6... yet.

If you're a CIO, CTO, or network administrator, it's a different story. It's well past time for you to get serious about IPv6, but that's a story for another day.

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