Get ready for IPv6, industry leader says

Nearing its limit, IPv4 use will peak in 2010 as IPv6 takes over and the United States must act now, an Internet industry leader predicted today.

“We are going to kill IPv4,” said Alex Lightman, president, chief executive officer and director of Innofone.com and chairman of the Federal IPv6 Summit in Reston, Va. The summit is already under way.

IP addresses identify how and where information, such as text, voice and video, travels on interconnected networks. IPv4 is widely used throughout industry, government agencies and on home computers. Many experts agree that IPv4 cannot handle the continued increase in users and devices connecting to the Internet. They say IPv6 can.

The Defense Department and the Office of Management and Budget have issued mandates to their agencies to build IPv6-based networks.

Countries such as Japan, China and Korea, and some European countries have invested in IPv6. Lightman said they have spent more than $800 million on what is sometimes called the New Internet. Among the countries’ pilot projects, Japan has offered tax breaks for companies installing IPv6-enabled networks, he said.

Lightman compared IPv4 with a black-and-white television in an era of high-definition, color televisions.

IPv6 offers greater interoperability and increases the number of available IP addresses from 4.3 billion with IPv4 to “3.4 billion trillion trillion trillion” with IPv6, he said.

Hundreds of new IPv6-enabled products will be available to consumers in 2007 and 2008, as the new network base grows, he said. Microsoft’s Vista, the upcoming operating system, will cause an exponential boom in the technology’s use.

“Microsoft is going to create the ‘Big Bang’ for IPv6,” he said.

Lightman is concerned that few voices in Congress are addressing the issue. Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, needs help, he said.

Immigration reforms are causing stirs on Capitol Hill as Congress tries to address the issues. IPv6 can play a role, Lightman said. It can offer biometrics inside identification cards such as visas, which would be difficult to counterfeit, unlike today’s ID cards. It would also allow for networks sensors that would detect intrusions on the border.

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