Web companies including Google, Facebook and Akamai are joining forces on Wednesday to test the Internet’s readiness for a future in which billions more people and devices will be connected. The pool of Internet addresses used for most traffic today is near ex-haustion, but adopting IPv6 — a new Internet protocol with 4 billion times as many addresses — has been slow despite the fact that it is more than a decade old. Publishers and Internet service providers have been waiting for the other to make the first move, and workarounds including translation services and address-sharing have become common. But the prospect of large numbers of modern IPv6 networks coming online — especially in the developing world where systems based on the previous protocol, IPv4, are not widespread — is beginning to push firms into action. “What’s at stake is the future scalability and utility of the Internet,” says Matthew Ford, technology program manager of the Internet So-ciety, a non-profit group dedicated to the open development of the Internet, which is organising World IPv6 Day.

“IPv6 is fundamentally about allowing the Internet to scale to meet the expectations and demands of a global population of 7 billion, coupled with increased expectations of how manydevices are expected to be able to connect to the Internet,” he says.

IPv4’s specifications were drawn up in 1981, when global population was 4.5 billion and the personal computer age was just dawning with the launch of the IBM personal computer. It allowed for 4.3 billion IP addresses. Today, more than 2 billion people are online, many with multiple computers and smartphones. By ‘20, 50 billion devices may be con-nected as smart meters, connected TVs and remote health management proliferate.

For 24 hours on Wednesday, websites with more than 1 billion com-bined visits a day will join distribution companies to enable IPv6. Yahoo, Limelight Networks and Verisign are some of those taking part. It will be the first global test of IPv6 “in the wild.”

Previous tests in Germany and Norway showed positive results. It is estimated that only one in 2,000 users will experience problems, but the aim is to identify unexpected problems and to raise awareness of the issue. The collaboration of top global Internet players is likely to prevent any one being blamed for problems that may include slow connections or attempts timing out.

Taken From “The Economic Times” 09 June 2011