Like homes and businesses, every device comprising the internet needs an address so it can be located. Internet protocol (IP) addresses don’t read as easily as 150 Maple Avenue. Instead they’re comprised of numbers separated by decimal points, for example, 126.96.36.199. The Internet uses these numeric addresses to route packets from one destination to another.
Think about traveling to a new restaurant across town. Programming the restaurant’s address into a GPS or using MapQuest helps you find the shortest route from your home to the restaurant. Imagine how business at the restaurant would suffer if the city didn’t assign it a street address because, "it ran out."
The popularity of the Internet and the cool devices that use it are depleting IP address space. Servers hosting your favorite online games or viral videos, modems, laptops, mobile phones and other devices that make the Internet work all consume IP address space. The most common IP addressing system, known as IPv4 was created 28 years ago and is limited to about 4.3 billion unique address worldwide. Since 4.3 billion addresses are no longer enough, a new internet protocol known as IPv6 was created to exponentially grow IP address space.
This week at the North American Network Operators Group’s 46th meeting (NANOG46) Comcast demonstrated end-to-end IPv6 readiness on its network. Comcast is testing and trialing IPv6 by proactively checking the readiness of our software, hardware and systems. In some cases we’re replacing or upgrading equipment to ensure the transition is smooth for our customers and the global Internet.
Readiness extends beyond Comcast’s networks and systems. We’re encouraging the entire internet community, consumer electronics industry and software developers to prepare along with us. It’s a complex task but we’ve started preparing well ahead of IPv4 address exhaustion so every device or customer needing an IP address will have one.