What is IPv6?

Learn about IPv6.

IPv6 is short for "Internet Protocol Version 6". IPv6 is the Internet's next-generation protocol, designed to replace the current Internet Protocol, IP Version 4.

In order to communicate over the Internet, computers and other devices must have sender and receiver addresses. These numeric addresses are known as Internet Protocol addresses. As the Internet and the number of people using it grows exponentially, so does the need for IP addresses.

IPv6 is a standard developed by the Internet Engineering Task Force, an organization that develops Internet technologies. The IETF, anticipating the need for more IP addresses, created IPv6 to accommodate the growing number of users and devices accessing the Internet. 

IPv6 allows more users and devices to communicate on the Internet by using bigger numbers to create IP addresses. Under IPv4, every IP address is 32 bits long, which allows 4.3 billion unique addresses. An example IPv4 address is:

172.16.254.1

In comparison, IPv6 addresses are 128 bits, which allow for approximately three hundred and forty trillion, trillion unique IP addresses. An example IPv6 address is:

2001:db8:ffff:1:201:02ff:fe03:0405

IPv6 offers other networking advantages. In most cases, computers and applications will detect and take advantage of IPv6-enabled networks and services without requiring any action from the user. IPv6 also relieves other networking issues that can arise due to the limited number of addresses available on IPv4. For example, IPv6 reduces the need for Network Address Translation, a service that allows multiple clients to share a single IP address, but is not always reliable.

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