Once is not custom, the news around IPv6 is not synonymous with catastrophism. On the contrary: the French telecommunications regulator has brought encouraging news about the availability of this new protocol. It is now provided ” on more than half of Internet access in France “, assesses the regulator on June 7, 2022.
This new measurement was produced from four sources of information: from Facebook and Google, which provide statistics on this subject and which have a privileged view of what is happening on the net, but also from the Akamai company, which provides services to websites to host their content, and Apnic, which is the regional IP address registry for Asia.
The Electronic Communications Regulatory Authority has established an indicator based on the median of the data from these four sources of information. It was at the beginning of June, on the 3rd precisely, that Arcep noted that the bar of 50% of Internet access in France which offers activated IPv6 had been crossed. Detailed tables are available on the Arcep website.
What is an IPv6 address?
IPv6 is a new way of writing the address making it possible to contact each machine connecting to a computer network — in this case, the Internet. The current version is called IPv4 and its structure generates around 4.3 billion addresses — or “license plates”, as this is also how IPv4 / IPv6 addresses are presented.
A stock of 4.3 billion addresses might have seemed sufficient twenty or thirty years ago, when personal computing was not yet so democratized. But today, there are more devices in circulation than human beings — computers, smartphones, tablets, consoles, servers, connected accessories, etc. There is a shortage of IPv4 addresses, hence the need to switch to IPv6.
IPv6 can generate 340 sextillion addresses. A sextillion is a number that is written with a 1 followed by 37 zeros. By way of comparison, it is estimated that the visible Universe has “only” 200 trillion stars (the number 200 followed by 21 zeros). In short, the exhaustion of IPv6 is not for tomorrow. It is even a scenario that we can doubt will ever happen.
In the 2021 edition of its report on the state of the Internet in France, Arcep notes that the sector is very fragmented: some have completely or almost completely migrated (such as smartphones or equipment manufacturers), others are halfway -path, like operators or hosts. And some are still on the starting line. This is the case for business and government information systems.
« Arcep encourages all players to maintain their efforts, in fact, the gradual depletion of IPv4 addresses [c’est déjà le cas en Europe, NDLR] necessitates a complete transition of the entire Internet ecosystem to IPv6 in the medium term “, recalls the gendarme of the telecoms. And better do it early, because it’s not a simple update.
« Due to the current complexity of the Internet, migration from IPv4 to IPv6 cannot be done abruptly in a single day. It is therefore carried out gradually, first in parallel with IPv4 (cohabitation phase), then, when all the players have migrated, in total replacement of IPv4 (extinction phase) “, adds the regulator.
In the past, the regulator has had a much more alarmist tone than at the beginning of June. ” A delay of most of the actors “, he said in 2018. You have to start “ urgently “, he launched the following year. Some time later, he even warned that the Internet ” will stop growing if no more addresses can be given to new machines.
Crossing the 50% mark is therefore good news, but should not hide the fact that there is still a long way to go.