IPv6: A Key Link in the Deployment of the Internet of Things

By November 9, 2016Blog, Featured

Every Internet-connected device is assigned a unique number known as an Internet protocol (IP) address, which serves to establish its connection with the rest of the global network. This system currently works with two protocols: IPv4 and IPv6.

Developed in 1983, IPv4 — the most widely used protocol — is limited to four billion different addresses. Although this pool of addresses was initially thought to be sufficient, ultimately it turned out not to be. Along with the mobile device boom and the development of the Internet of Things (IoT) — the idea of connecting everyday objects both to the Internet and to each other — came a surge in the number of Internet-connected devices. In this context, a new protocol, IPv6, was proposed, capable of providing 340 undecillion different addresses.

The number of interconnected objects capable of sensing, monitoring and managing automated data is on the upswing. IoT is no longer just a potential market but has become instead an established trend in our society. Whether part of smart transportation, healthcare, homes, or cities, this technology promises billions in earnings worldwide, as a result of the investments that businesses and organizations are pouring into it. Market analysis firm IDC estimates that, by the end of 2020, there will be 50 billion connected objects, which translates into US$1.7 trillion worth of business. With billions of devices worldwide, all of them interconnected, IPv4 will become obsolete.

The truth is that IoT will be increasingly present in people’s daily lives. Government investment in smart infrastructure and solutions to streamline and improve citizens’ lives is growing globally, and Latin America is no exception. For their part, companies are increasing their business opportunities by embracing these technologies.

In this scenario, IPv6 is the only viable technology upon which to build IoT, since billions of devices will be connected to the Internet in the upcoming years. If, as mentioned above, IPv4 addresses are being exhausted, there is no choice but to implement IoT over IPv6.

Although some IoT technologies, such as RFID or ZigBee, do not use IPv6, the trend is to migrate from these technologies to IP. Today, only small-scale, self-contained projects can be implemented without IPv6.

Nonetheless, IPv6 protocol deployment in Latin America and the Caribbean has been sluggish. Experts assert that it has been delayed due to a lack of training on the part of technicians at most of the region’s organizations and Internet companies. The protocol created to replace IPv4 remains poorly understood and underrated, probably because there is still a failure to recognize its true value in terms of Internet development.

It is important to understand IPv6 as a key tool to achieving greater performance from Internet applications. To that end, LACNIC, the Internet address registry for Latin America and the Caribbean is developing different activities in the region to explain the depletion of IPv4 addresses. The steps that must be taken for IPv6 migration. Active participation by all stakeholders is required to achieve the smoothest possible transition, assuring continuous network growth through a proper, stable, and secure transition to IPv6 throughout the region.

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