The Internet Protocol (IP) is basically a communications protocol used for relaying packets of data across a network. The most part of present day Internet, which has today become indispensable for socio economic activities, runs on IPv4, i.e., Internet Protocol version 4. It is about 27 year old protocol having many limitations. The biggest limitation is its 32-bit addressing space resulting in about 4.3 billion IP addresses only. The rapid growth of internet, wireless subscribers and deployment of NGN technology is leading to accelerated consumption of IP addresses with the result that IPv4 addresses are almost exhausted today. India has at present about 35 million IPv4 addresses against a user base of about 360 million data users which are primarily mobile data subscribers. Envisaging the shortage of IPv4 addresses, Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) was developed by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) way back in early 1990s. The IPv6 improves on the addressing capacities of IPv4 by using 128 bits addressing instead of 32 bits, thereby practically making available an almost infinite pool of IP addresses. Besides, it has several inherent advantages as well.
The current version of the Internet Protocol (IPv4) has almost run out of addresses, the next wave of connectivity ride on next generation Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) . The NTP-2012 has recognized the futuristic role of IPv6 and aimed to achieve substantial transition to IPv6 in the India in a phased and time bound manner.
The Internet acts as a catalyst for socio-economic development of a country and serves as an effective medium for delivery of various citizen centric services even in remote and rural areas.
Information and Communications Technology (ICT) has been recognized the world-over as a key enabler for socio-economic development of a country. It acts as a catalyst for rapid growth and modernization of various sectors of the economy and serves as an effective medium for delivery of various citizen centric services even in remote and rural areas thus bridging the digital divide.
Since the current version of the Internet Protocol (IPv4) has almost run out of free IPv4 addresses, the internet revolution is sure to ride on next generation Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) .
Features of IPv6
The IPv6 offers several advantages over IPv4 as below:
Security – Internet Protocol Security (IPSec) is a part of the IPv6 base protocol suite. It supports end-to-end security, authentication and non-repudiation thereby simplifying end to end security into applications.
Auto configuration – This is a plug and play feature which simplifies network configuration especially when the number of devices / nodes is very large like in typical sensor networks. It helps networks to quickly respond to crisis situations and facilitate adhoc network reorganisations.
Simplified Header format with better Quality of Service (QoS) – The header format has been simplified in IPv6 which helps in faster routing and switching. There is also a traffic class and flow label field, improving streaming for several applications such as VoIP, interactive gaming, e-commerce, videos etc.
IP Host Mobility – This feature enables a mobile node to arbitrarily change its location on an IP network while still remaining reachable and maintaining existing connections. Some practical uses of Mobile IPv6 could be enterprise on the move (e.g. courier companies etc.), globally reachable home networks and internet enabled transport (cars, buses, trucks etc).
Innovative Applications – IPv6 has been designed with many new features which make it possible to develop innovative applications which are not easily possible in the current IPv4 protocol e.g. Centralized Building Management System, Intelligent Transport Systems, Rural Emergency Health Care, Tele-education / Distance Education, Smart Grids etc.
Multicast – The ability to send a single packet to multiple destinations (multicast) conserves bandwidth with efficient auto-configuration and service discovery.
Support for Jumbograms – The limit of payload size is not there in IPv6 and its size can be as large as possible depending upon the Maximum Transmission Unit (MTU). This greatly improves performance on high MTU paths.