Facebook, Google, Yahoo to test-drive IPv6 addresses

Facebook, Google and Yahoo are switching their websites to new Internet addresses in a 24-hour test to raise awareness of the critical shortage of capacity.

The three online giants, which together attract more than 1 billion visits a day, will transfer their sites to the next generation of internet addresses on June 8th, as experts warn that online capacity is running dangerously low.

Vint Cerf, a vice-president at Google, said the transition to new a address space is “one of the most important steps to protect the Internet as we know it”.

Most of the net in Europe is based on Internet protocol (IP) addresses standardised in 1996, known as IPv4. But experts warn that this space could be exhausted in a matter of months, meaning that the Internet will simply stop expanding. The next generation of Internet addresses, IPv6, has 4bn times more space than the current network.

Jonathan Heiliger, vice president of technical operations at Facebook, said the 24-hour test in June was a “crucial step” in ensuring the internet remains on a level playing field for communication. Internet users whose service providers are not IPv6 compatible might not be able to reach sites that have switched from IPv4, and vice versa.

“In the short history of the Internet, the transition to IPv6 is one of the most important steps we will take together to protect the internet as we know it,” Cerf said yesterday. “It’s as if the Internet was originally designed with a limited number of telephone numbers, and we’re soon going to run out.”

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