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Will the Internet of Things force the adoption of IPv6?

The thriving IoT market might force Internet Service Providers to make a move for all-encompassing adoption of IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6). However, compared to its predecessor, the currently dominant IPv4, IPv6 has several benefits. 

The prognoses for the growth of the Internet of Things vary from one market research to another, yet they are all unanimously optimistic.

According to Bain, the market of the IoT will expand to about $520 billion in 2021, more than doubling from $235 billion in 2017. IDC predicts that global spending on the IoT will reach $1.2 trillion in 2022.

As for the advantages of IPv6, the virtually unlimited supply of addresses it provides is the most glaring one, while the IPv4s have nearly run out. According to Vincentas Grinius, CEO of Heficed, an IP address-centric network infrastructure provider, there are more benefits the IPv6 adoption would bring.

“The Internet of Things will be one of the main drivers for global IPv6 adoption. Apart from the ability to scale, IPv6 entails other benefits.

“It supports Stateless Auto Configuration, making the life of network administrators easier.

“Furthermore, NAT won’t be needed anymore because all devices will be able to communicate directly.

“Finally, the IPv6 has innate security features that IPv4 lacks. In general, IPv6 is a protocol created for our age of the internet,” added Grinius.

There are also severe roadblocks to the process, but the Internet of Things could be the needed motivation for the global switch to IPv6.

“Many factors are slowing down the migration to IPv6, but three of them come to mind instantly: the need to redesign networks, the readiness of the internet users and devices, and the know-how required to build and support IPv6 networks,” continued Grinius.

“As a big number of devices, especially older ones, can only work on the IPv4, they would need to be changed or updated.

“At the same time, redesigning the existing networks requires considerable investments, hence the lag from the ISPs’ side. As long as there are ways to avoid full adoption, it will be dragged.

“However, if the IoT industry is to explode the way it is forecasted, the move will have to be made sooner rather than later.”

Also, as already mentioned, the IPv4 is limited. Approximately 4.3 billion addresses were created once the protocol was initiated, and the number can’t be expanded.

Most of the supply has already run out, which launched a lucrative second-hand market of IPv4 addresses.

Every device connected to the Internet needs an address, hence the need for the virtually unlimited IPv6 supply. As a more advanced protocol, IPv6 offers up to 340 trillion, trillion, trillion addresses. 

Per Google, devices using IPv6 generate close to 30% of the global internet traffic today. The same data suggests a steady climb in IPv6 adoption rate at approximately 5% each year, starting with 2016 when only 5% of the global traffic was generated by IPv6-using devices.

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