IPv6 finally coming to root DNS servers

The current IPv4 protocol used on the Internet is running out of the addresses needed to accommodate the growing number of users online.

The American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN), the organization responsible for giving out IP addresses in North America, says that 19 percent of the IPv4 addresses are still available, while 68 percent have been allocated and 13 percent are “unavailable,” whatever that could mean. There are 4.3 billion IPv4 addresses, or 2^32. IPv6 has 2^128 addresses, or 16 billion-billion.

There have been efforts to get more mileage out of IPv4 by using tricks like conversions to IPv6 or using duplicate IPv4 addresses within a firewall. This has helped extend the lifespan of IPv4 but it only prolonged the inevitable.

Until now the biggest obstacle to IPv6 has been the fact that IPv6 address information is not included in most of the root DNS servers that power the Internet. DNS (Domain Name Service) is the Internet service that translates domain names such www.example.com into the numeric IP (Internet Protocol) addresses such as 198.105.232.4 that are actually used to connect computers on the Internet.

Starting on February 4th, at least one of those adoption barriers will be addressed as records for IPv6 addresses are added to four of the key root DNS servers. The inclusion of the IPv6 records could make the adoption and operation of IPv6 a more viable option for network operators.

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