Your IP Address is 54.196.72.162
Change to Normal FontsChange to Larger FontsChange to The Largest Fonts size
Organised By:Internet Society

Frequently-asked Questions

For more FAQs and technical problem solutions, please also refer to the Internet Society FAQ site.

A. About IP, IPv4 and IPv6

Q: Is the Internet about to run out of IP address numbers?
Q: What is IPv6?
Q: What happened to IPv5?
Q: How does IPv6 solve the problem of IPv4 address exhaustion?
Q: What happens when the IPv4 address pool is finally depleted?
Q: When will IPv4 addresses actually run out?
Q: Why is IPv6 a great solution?
Q: Will IPv6 addresses run out eventually?
Q: What is the difference between IPv4 and IPv6? Will users be able to tell the difference?
Q: Are there other advantages to IPv6 besides increased address space?
Q: I have heard some people say IPv6 is more secure than IPv4, while others say it is less secure than IPv4. So who is right?
Q: Will IPv4 address depletion mean that services will get switched off?
Q: How long do you think we will have the IPv4 and IPv6 protocols active at the same time?
Q: What still needs to happen for the Hong Kong industry to effectively transition to IPv6?
Q: What and when is "World IPv6 Day"?

B. About transitioning to IPv6

Q: How will the switch to IPv6 affect me? What will happen if I do not switch?
Q: Is IPv6 ready for deployment now?
Q: How much will the transition to IPv6 cost?
Q: Is there a specific date when everything needs to be upgraded to IPv6?
Q: When will I need to turn off IPv4?
Q: I run IT services. What should I be doing now to get ready?
Q: I have enough addresses today. Why should I bother implementing IPv6?

A. About IP, IPv4 and IPv6

Q: Is the Internet about to run out of IP address numbers?
A: Yes and no. For the version of the Internet Protocol that underpins the Internet today (IPv4) there is a limited amount of unused space remaining. While estimates vary, according to the Number Resource Organisation, pool of IPv4 addresses was depleted on 3 February 2011.[1], The transition of the Internet to IPv6 is the only available long-term solution to IPv4 exhaustion.

Q: What is IPv6?
A: IPv6 is successor to IPv4. It functions similarly to IPv4 in that it provides the unique, numerical IP addresses necessary for Internet-enabled devices to communicate, but this 128-bit-based IPv6 provides trillions of times more addresses than IPv4. A typical IPv6 address has 8 groups of four hexadecimal digits (0-F) and each group is separated by a colon so it looks something like this: 2001:0db8:85a3:08d3:1319:8a2e:0370:7344.

Q: What happened to IPv5?
A: IPv5 is reversed for the Internet Stream Protocol which has not been widely deployed.

Q: How does IPv6 solve the problem of IPv4 address exhaustion?
A: Simply by having a lot more address space to uniquely identify devices that are connected to the Internet. IPv4 has a theoretical maximum of about 4 billion addresses whereas IPv6 has an unimaginable theoretical maximum: about 340 trillion, trillion, trillion (3.4 x1038) addresses.

5 Q: What happens when the IPv4 address pool is finally depleted?
A: Existing devices and networks connected to the Internet through IPv4 addresses will continue to work as they do now. In fact, IPv4-based networks are expected to co-exist with IPv6-based networks.

However, for network operators and other entities that conduct business online, it will become increasingly difficult and expensive - - eventually prohibitively so - to obtain new IPv4 address space to grow their business. The cost and complexity associated with doing business online will escalate.

Network operators and enterprises will therefore need to implement IPv6 in order to ensure the long-term growth of their business and global connectivity.

Q: When will IPv4 addresses actually run out?
A: The last batch of available IPv4 addresses was allocated on 3 February 2011. In the Asia Pacific region, since 15 April 2011 new service providers can only get IPv6 addresses.

Q: Why is IPv6 a great solution?
A: The expanded addressing capacity of IPv6 will enable the trillions of new devices such as smartphones, household appliances and vehicles to connect to the internet. IPv6 will also enhance the quality of service for supporting new applications and services such as IP telephony, video/audio, interactive games, e-commerce.

Q: Will IPv6 addresses run out eventually?
A: No, at least not in the next 50 years. An enormous amount of IP address space exists under IPv6. This addressing capacity will enable the trillions of new Internet addresses needed to support connectivity for a huge range of smart devices such as phones, household appliances and vehicles.

Q: What is the difference between IPv4 and IPv6? Will users be able to tell the difference?
A: IPv6 has a longer address than IPv4. A typical IPv6 address has 8 groups of four hexadecimal digits (0-F) separated by colons, so it looks like this: 2001:0db8:85a3:08d3:1319:8a2e:0370:7344. On the other hand, IPv4 is represented by four groups of decimal numbers from 0 to 255 and typically follows the following format: 202.112.101.255.

Q: Are there other advantages to IPv6 besides increased address space?
A: IPv6 provides much more address space. However, being a more recent protocol, IPv6 does have a few design improvements over IPv4, particularly in the areas of auto-configuration, mobility, and extensibility.

Q: I have heard some people say IPv6 is more secure than IPv4, while others say it is less secure than IPv4. So who is right?
A: Debates concerning IPv4 versus IPv6 security often focus on different aspects of network deployment.

It has been said that IPv6 is more secure because the specifications mandate the inclusion of the IP Security (IPsec) suite of protocols in products. In IPv4, including IPsec is optional, but it is commonly available. Because the IPsec protocol suite is designed to be indifferent to IP versions, the technology works generally the same way in both IPv4 and IPv6. In this way, the benefits of using IPsec are similar in either environment. Network operators should become educated on IPv6 security practices and keep up-to-date with developments as they plan for and deploy IPv6.

Q: Will IPv4 address depletion mean that services will get switched off?
A: No. Both IPv4 and IPv6 will run in parallel for a long time although eventually the Internet will run on IPv6 only.

Q: How long do you think we will have the IPv4 and IPv6 protocols active at the same time?
A: No one can predict when IPv4 will be turned off. This will depend on market forces. When IPv6 becomes the dominant network it will draw more people in and demand for IPv4 will drop. However, both IPv4 and IPv6 must co-exist in order to resolve the backwards compatibility, such as older network printers that cannot be migrated to IPv6.

Q: What still needs to happen for the Hong Kong industry to effectively transition to IPv6?
A: The transition to IPv6 will require collaboration across the Internet industry, including all Internet Service Providers, Website owners, hardware and software vendors. All major industry players need to take action to ensure products and services are ready for the transition.

Q: What and when is "World IPv6 Launch"?
A: The first World IPv6 Day took place on 8th June, 2011, where top websites and Internet Service Providers around the world, including Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Akamai, and Limelight Networks, joined together with more than 1000 other participating websites for a successful global trial of the new Internet Protocol, IPv6. By providing a coordinated 24-hour "test flight", the event helped demonstrate that major websites around the world are well-positioned for the move to a global IPv6-enabled Internet.

June 6th, 2012 is designed as "World IPv6 Launch" Day, where major ISPs, home networking equipment manufacturers, and web companies around the world will come together to permanently enable IPv6 for their products and services. Click here to find out how you can join the launch.

B. About transitioning to IPv6

Q: How will the switch to IPv6 affect me? What will happen if I do not switch?
A: For the next few months it won't have a major impact on your life. Most operating systems actually support IPv6, including Mac OS X 10.2 Linux, Windows 7 and Windows Vista. However, many routers, high-end security appliances products and servers don't support it, making a connection between a device with an IPv6 address to a router or server that only supports IPv4 impossible.

If industry decides not to switch over to IPv6, it could also mean:
  • Your favourite web programmes will slow down.
  • Computers will have a harder time communicating with each other, affecting the smooth running of multimedia services like Skype and DropBox.
  • Your privacy could be compromised because with all the dividing of addresses, it will be hard to tell the difference between you and another computer user down the street.

Q: Is IPv6 ready for deployment now?
A: The short answer is yes. There are three basic aspects involved in the deployment of IPv6: the protocol, the products, and the operational practices.

IPv6 is ready for deployment in Hong Kong, but additional effort is needed to make its use pervasive. The whole Hong Kong IT community, including equipment vendors, application developers, network operators and end users all have a vital role to play in ensuring the successful deployment of IPv6.

Q: How much will the transition to IPv6 cost?
A: For home users, operating systems such as Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux now incorporate IPv6 within their latest releases and will automatically use IPv6 if it is available. Applications and network devices are expected to follow as the global demand for IPv6 increases.

For SMEs, since network needs and businesses differ, IPv6 transition strategies and related costs will also vary between organisations. Hardware and software vendors are increasingly integrating IPv6 as a standard feature in products, allowing organisations to deploy IPv6 as part of routine upgrade cycles. For many organisations, operational costs, including staff training, and one-time administrative costs to add IPv6 to management databases and documentation, are likely to account for most of the cost of upgrading to IPv6. Organisations that run in-house customised software will experience additional costs to upgrade these programs to IPv6, and enterprises that have test/release processes will see a marginal additional cost for the IPv6 configuration tests.

Q: Is there a specific date when everything needs to be upgraded to IPv6?
A: No. There is no specific date when everything must be upgraded to IPv6, although some organisations, including governments, have already identified target dates for their own IPv6

implementation. IPv6 has been designed for a long period of co-existence with IPv4 and it is expected that IPv4-only systems and applications will survive for many years. However, IPv6-only systems are expected to snowball as momentum gathers across the globe and especially in emerging business markets and developing countries.

Implementing IPv6 requires considerable planning and with IPv4 address pool exhaustion in 2011, this planning needs to start now. Network operators and administrators should already be incorporating IPv6 into their network upgrade and procurement plans.

Q: When will I need to turn off IPv4?
A: Possibly never. The purpose of deploying IPv6 is to ensure network growth and continued interconnectivity when IPv4 address space becomes depleted and difficult to obtain. In addition, as the global Internet continues to expand, it is likely that some Internet sites will only be available via IPv6.

To avoid problems, Internet stakeholders should be fully IPv6-enabled by the time IPv6-only sites start appearing. However, in practice, it is only the public-facing part of an enterprise's infrastructure V usually the website - that needs to be IPv6 enabled at the outset. The back-end infrastructure - which users do not interact with directly - can continue to be based entirely on IPv4, so long as that is the most cost-effective approach. (Enterprises may determine that it is more cost-effective to progressively turn off IPv4 in parts of their network once it is no longer needed or in significant use.)

One should expect, however, that it might never be cost-effective (or possible) to upgrade certain legacy systems. Thus, it will likely be a decade or more before enterprise sites find themselves in a position to consider completely turning off IPv4. In practice, there is no need to turn it off so long as IPv4-only applications still remain in use.

Q: I run IT services. What should I be doing now to get ready?
A: Plan for IPv6 as you would for any major service upgrade.

Do an audit of your current IPv6 capabilities and readiness (you can test your IPv6 readiness here). Assess the level of IPv6 technical knowledge within your staff and make plans for staff development and training in order to support IPv6 implementation.

Think about which of your services will lose business if they are only accessible to IPv4-users and make them a priority for an IPv6 upgrade. For example, you may plan to implement an IPv6-enabled front-end Web server immediately, before converting your internal network.

Remove obstacles to enabling IPv6 including identifying any legacy systems that cannot be upgraded, and choose an appropriate solution for them. Most likely, the solution will be an application level proxy that can support both IPv4 and IPv6 for the remaining lifetime of that system. Plan upgrades and purchases so that you don't find yourself discovering at a late stage of IPv6 deployment that you are not ready because a key system dependency is not IPv6 capable.

Contact your vendors to find out about IPv6 support in their current products and future releases and ask your ISP about their plans to support IPv6.

Q: I have enough addresses today. Why should I bother implementing IPv6?
A: IPv6 is an important part of ensuring the continued growth and accessibility of your services to the rest of the Internet and emerging markets in particular. As the Internet progressively becomes a dual IPv4/IPv6 network, ensuring that you are IPv6 enabled will be critical for retaining universal Internet connectivity for your clients, users, subscribers, business partners and suppliers. Indeed, as the difficulty and cost of obtaining IPv4 address space increases, it is inevitable that some sites will only support IPv6. Connectivity with such sites (and customers) will require IPv6.

It is also worth considering what services and devices may need to be supported over the next few years as the remaining IPv4 pool becomes depleted. Your existing address allocations may be insufficient to support a sudden increase in the number of connected devices per person, as many organisations experienced with the rapid deployment of IP-enabled wireless handheld products and similar devices a few years ago.


  Footnote:
1.ISOC - http://www.internetsociety.org/ipv6

View IPv6Now.hk in Mobile | Desktop
Copyright © 2012 Internet Society Hong Kong
W3C World IPv6 Launch