The Internet is evolving. The current network protocol – the “language” and set of rules computers use to talk to each other over the Internet – has reached the end of its life. In order to maintain connectivity, the Federal Government must transition to the next generation Internet – Internet Protocol, version 6 (IPv6).
The existing protocol supporting the Internet today – Internet Protocol, version 4 (IPv4) provides the world with just over 4 billion IP addresses, inherently limiting the number of devices that can be given a unique, globally routable address on the Internet. The development of IPv6, which will provide the world with an exponentially larger number of IP addresses, is essential to the continued growth of the Internet and development of new applications leveraging mobile Internet connectivity. Although the information technology (IT) community has come up with workarounds for this shortage in the IPv4 environment, IPv6 is the true long-term solution to this problem.
However, there is more to the IPv6 transition than achieving the basic objective of providing additional IP addresses. As Federal agencies integrate IPv6 within their current operations, they also have the opportunity to employ the new technology to optimize and enhance their business functions and improve operational efficiencies and citizen services. The technological advances provided by the new protocol suite, including enhanced connectivity, support for mobile devices, improved security at the network level, and peer-to-peer communications tools, will allow the Federal Government to utilize ultra-high performance networks that will better connect citizens to high bandwidth Web and services.