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Net bigwigs team up to push IP 6

IPv6 Forum heralds the New Internet, where everyone has an IP address of their very own

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Many of the leading names in the IT, telecoms and Internet industries have come together (right now) to promote the adoption of the latest iteration of the Internet Protocol, version 6. Banding together as the IPv6 Forum, the 40-odd companies see IP 6 as the basis for a faster, more secure network which, in an apparent mood of Blairite frenzy, the Forum is calling THE NEW INTERNET -- their capitals, not ours. Currently, the Internet is founded on IP 4, but Forum members claim that has now come as far as it can be taken. It's not entirely clear what happened to IP 5, but the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), the body responsible for specifying Internet protocols, has prepared IP 6 -- it's been working on it for the last five years -- to take version 4's place. Cellphone companies seem particularly keen on IP 6 -- they view the standard as a key requirement for integrating cellular networks into the wider Internet to allow portable devices to take their place as fully fledged Net access tools alongside PCs and workstations. "Today, the number of cellular handsets already far exceeds the number of fixed Internet terminals; IPv6 is the only viable architecture that can accommodate the coming wave of Internet capable cellular devices," said Pekka Ala-Pietile, president of Nokia. Adopting IP 6 will, of course, bring about some upheavals, which is probably why the industry feels the need to gear up and promote its use. However, it will resolve some important issues the Internet as it stands will have to face in the very near future. The key problem here is the limitations IP 4 places on the number of available addresses. It's widely predicted that were going to run out of these pretty soon, though for some observers address sharing and unused address culling procedures will put off the point at which the limit is reach for some time. The Forum's response to that while that's a fair point, it makes more sense to adopt a technology without the limitation as soon as possible, and before changing everyone's software becomes a real logistics problem. According to the IPv6 Forum version 6 will also "more flexible address assignment policies, multicasting design, and security features to become basic components of the evolving Internet. "IP 6 also offers features that facilitate the deployment of new qualities of service, which are needed to serve an expanding array of applications that require multiple classes of services, priority, and bandwidth assignment." So there. ® See also IETF drafts near-final HTTP 1.1 spec

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