Federal CIO Vivek Kundra has issued a directive requiring all U.S. government agencies to upgrade their public-facing Web sites and services by Sept. 30, 2012 to support IPv6, the long-anticipated upgrade to the Internet’s main communications protocol.
“The federal government is committed to the operational deployment and use of Internet Protocol version 6,” the Kundra memo states, pointing out several initiatives including cloud computing, broadband deployment and smart grid technology that require the expanded address space offered by IPv6.
IPv6 will “enable the Internet to continue to operate efficiently through an integrated, well-architected networking platform and accommodate the future expansion of Internet-based services,” the memo says.
Kundra released this memo in conjunction with an IPv6 workshop held by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration on Tuesday. The workshop featured high-profile executives from government, industry and Internet policymaking organizations who urged the federal government to set a deadline for IPv6-enabling its Web sites.
IPv6 is the biggest upgrade in the 40-year history of the Internet. Forward-looking carriers and enterprises are deploying IPv6 because the Internet is running out of IP addresses using the current standard, known as IPv4.
IPv4 uses 32-bit addresses and can support 4.3 billion devices connected directly to the Internet. IPv6, on the other hand, uses 128-bit addresses and supports a virtually unlimited number of devices — 2 to the 128th power.
About 94.5 per cent of IPv4 address space has been allocated as of Sept. 3, 2010, according to the American Registry for Internet Numbers, which delegates blocks of IPv4 and IPv6 addresses to carriers and enterprises in North America. Experts say IPv4 addresses could run out as early as December but will certainly be gone by the end of 2011.