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By 8 June 2011 | Categories: news

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Today is world IPv6 day, with some of the biggest internet players around the globe testing out the new protocol to ensure the world doesn't run out of IP addresses by 2012 (as the Mayan calendar predicts).

Jokes aside, the depletion of IPv4 addresses is expected to occur next year, with IPv6 (internet protocol version 6) now beginning to see broad implementation. While the IPv4 protocol could accommodate some 4.3 billion different addresses, IPv6 can support 340 undecillion addresses, or 10³? (that's one with 36 zeroes).

A writer at infosecisland neatly put the size of the new protocol in perspective saying, “if the current pool of 4.3 billion addresses were the size of a golf ball, the new 340 undecillion address space would be about the size of the sun.”

This massive expansion allows for many more users and devices on the internet, and also makes the allocation of new addresses much easier.

The global IPv6 day has been organised by the Internet Society, with major online heavyweights such as Google, Facebook and Yahoo joining in on the 24-hour test day to see if they're ready for the transition.

According to Techradar, a Facebook spokesperson stated about the day, “World IPv6 Day will allow us to better understand how our infrastructure and code perform under IPv6 while minimising impact on our users.”

On the local side the day is also being celebrated by MTN, with GM for infrastructure and technology at MTN Business, Edwin Thompson, welcoming the creation of IPv6 day.

“MTN Business understands this and in line with our approach to be catalysts for change, we not only support this day, but the concept and transparency required to move our customers toward IPv6, the obvious evolutionary step for the Internet.”  

The implementation of the new protocol will hopefully not have a large impact on internet users, with Yahoo estimating that about 0.05 percent of its visitors will see slow response times from its sites today. 

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