Europe and Japan are pooling their efforts to get IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6) widely adopted.

The European Commission’s IPv6 task force and the IPv6 promotion council of Japan said in a joint statement that they will cooperate “to foster promotion and deployment and garner support for the new generation Internet Protocol.”

“I believe that Japan and the EU will jointly achieve success in advancing IPv6 by sharing our deployment experiences,” said professor Jun Murai, chairman of the IPv6 promotion council of Japan.

European Commissioner for enterprise and the information society, Erkki Liikanen, said IPv6 development is now embarking on its second phase. This will involve the Commission helping to set up IPv6 task forces at national and regional levels, as well as developing international cooperation agreements like the one signed with the Japanese today. He added that there is enough political will among national EU governments to deploy the new protocol.

“I am convinced the successful completion of this next phase will contribute significantly to the deployment of IPv6 throughout Europe by 2005,” Liikanen said.

The most immediate problem the new protocol will tackle is the lack of available Internet addresses for what is expected to be a rising number of online devices. IPv4, which remains the predominant protocol today, was designed primarily for the needs of computers. Its replacement will make it easier for everything from household appliances to mobile phones to be connected to the Internet.

IPv6 supports new features and enhances others, including larger address space, end-to-end connectivity, “plug & play” auto-configuration, built-in security, mobility, multicast, anycast and larger data packets, the two groups said.