All in a Day's Work: Making Room For Billions More Internet Users and Their Devices

Today we are pushing the envelope in collaboration with Internet innovators to be sure that the Net can continue to grow and meet the needs of the billions of new users and even more devices we want to connect in the future.

For 24 hours, a wide range of organizations worldwide, including Federal agencies and Internet companies, like AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, Google, Facebook, Yahoo!, and Akamai, are providing their content and traffic over Internet protocol version six or IPv6.

IPv6 is an Internet addressing system designed to expand the number of IP addresses available, allowing a big increase in the number of devices that can be attached to the Internet (smart-phones, tablets, cloud computing or smartgrid technologies)– and all the innovation and opportunity that comes with that new capacity.

This expansion is necessary because the current number of addresses under Internet Protocol version four (IPv4), the current addressing system, is gradually being exhausted. Picture this: while IPv4 supports 4.3 billion addresses, IPv6 supports 340 trillion trillion trillion possible addresses.

So what makes this day special?

Today is World IPv6 Day, the brain-child of the Internet Society (ISOC), an international nonprofit organization that promotes Internet use and access. The goal of this day is to motivate organizations across the industry — Internet service providers, content and transport providers, hardware and software manufacturers, operating system vendors, and web companies to test their equipment and services and push the margin on IPv6 deployment. Trials like this can inform technical experts as they see what works and what areas they need to focus on for further planning. It also allows engineers an opportunity to identify and fix glitches in systems.

This is a critical learning opportunity, but it is also part of a broader movement to draw attention to this important undertaking — and a good opportunity for both the public and private sector to make additional strides in IPv6 deployment efforts.

On the government side, we have made this issue a priority. We know that IPv6 deployment will help enable the technologies that allow us to pursue broader policy goals in areas such as healthcare, education and energy.

Back in September, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) hosted an IPv6 workshop to promote government and industry stakeholder planning efforts, at which Federal CIO Vivek Kundra issued a memo giving Federal agencies deadlines for implementing IPv6  and outlining next-steps for adoption. Currently, CIO Kundra’s Federal IPv6 Task Force is working with Federal Government CIOs, their transition managers, and technical experts to transition our Federal networks and meet these deadlines. In step with this, Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has developed a technical standards profile and testing infrastructure to help facilitate and accelerate wide-scale adoption of IPv6 in the U.S. Government.

Today we have 15 Federal agencies participating and testing over 30 separate websites, like the Commerce Department and NASA which will offer content over both IPv4 and IPv6. The aim is to improve deployment efforts and identify technical areas to improve upon throughout the agency and across the government.

Likewise, we are working to increase awareness and encourage businesses to plan for the IPv6 transition. We convened industry stakeholders at the workshop last September to highlight this issue, and one result was the development of an IPv6 readiness tool for businesses to use as they plan for the transition. As we look at industry progress, we see that several key players have been moving the ball forward – but we still have a long way to go and will continue to urge businesses to adopt, deploy, and plan for IPv6.

Going forward, we will continue to work with industry to draw attention to this issue and stress the importance of planning and training efforts. We plan to reconvene stakeholders for a workshop this fall to build on these efforts and share lessons learned from today’s tests, develop or improve other corporate planning tools, and highlight the successful practices of some of the best actors in industry and the Federal government. We want to see more results, more adoption, and more efforts like today’s. We believe government can work in partnership with industry and other stakeholders to ensure that the technology that underpins the Internet continues to support innovation and economic growth.

Congrats to all of today’s participants. Let’s keep the momentum going!

Aneesh Chopra is US Chief Technology Officer

Vivek Kundra is US Chief Information Officer

Lawrence E. Strickling is Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information at the Department of Commerce

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