Communications giant BT has announced that it intends to add IPv6 support to its entire network by the end of next year, as the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) announces the exhaustion of the IPv4 address space.
IPv6, the next-generation for Internet Protocol version 4, offers one primary advantage over its predecessor: a far, far vaster address space. Using IPv6, it would be possible to give every grain of sand on the planet, and another few hundred billion planets aside, its own individual IP address - doing away with awkward address-space extension schemes like Network Address Translation (NAT) once and for all. The technology comes not a moment too soon, with the organisation responsible for handing out blocks of IP addresses - ARIN - announcing
that it has run out of IPv4 addresses to hand out for any but special-case users.
Speaking at a technology conference attended by the BBC
, BT announced that it would be migrating its entire IP infrastructure to IPv6 by the end of next year - with half the network to be IPv6-enabled by April 2016. For customers with the company's latest Home Hub routers, the transition will be smooth; for users on older hardware, though, an upgrade will be required, something the BBC reports BT is investigating.
Most major UK ISPs are running trials to migrate to IPv6 themselves, with a small number already offering IPv6 support to their customers. Sky, one of BT's biggest rivals in the consumer broadband market, has indicated that it plans to beat its competitor to the punch by enabling IPv6 for the majority of its customers by early next year.