Internet Governance

NTIA wants to know IoT address needs

Shutterstock image (by a-image): connected devices around the world.

The fact that the Internet of Things is about to explode isn't news to people who already have internet-enabled refrigerators, houses and cars, but one government agency wants to understand how to handle all that gear under the IPv6 routing protocol.

Experts predict that by 2020, there will be 25 connected devices for every person on the planet, totaling about 200 billion devices, wrote Ashley Heineman, telecommunications policy specialist at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration's Office of International Affairs, in an Aug. 18 blog post.

As the world moves from the crowded IP Version 4 that's been in place since about 1984 to IPv6, there will be room more for the devices, she added. But exactly how many internet addresses will be required to accommodate them isn't easy to understand because the transition is ongoing.

IPv4 supports about 4.3 billion IP addresses, which are almost exhausted. IPv6 can handle 340 undecillion addresses, which is a mind-blowing 340 followed by 36 zeros.

However, the pace of IPv6's adoption is hard to track, Heineman said. In the U.S., about a third of internet services are IPv6-capable, and the pace of adoption will probably increase as IPv4 addresses become scarcer, she added.

The federal government has tried to lead the transition to IPv6, but some large agencies, including the Defense Department, have lagged.

To get a better handle on IPv6 adoption, NTIA officials are asking companies that have implemented it to tell the agency about the factors and circumstances that influenced decisions to use IPv6, particularly what the benefits and obstacles are. Officials also want to know the costs involved and when companies expect a return on their investment. NTIA is accepting comments until Oct. 3.

Heineman said the agency will use the input for efforts such as an IPv6 best-practices form during the upcoming Internet Governance Forum scheduled for December in Guadalajara, Mexico.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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