September 24, 2012, 9:59 AM — Having invented the Internet 40-odd years ago, the United States has had the first-mover advantage when it comes to selling products and services that run on this ubiquitous communications platform. Now the United States is pulling ahead of its global rivals on next-gen Internet services built around the emerging IPv6 standard.
During the last two years, U.S. ISPs, network hardware and software vendors, and Website operators have made major investments in time and capital to upgrade their offerings to support IPv6. As a result of this widespread effort, the latest IPv6 statistics indicate that the United States is the global leader in several categories, including the amount of IPv6-enabled users, Web content and networking products.
IPv6 is an upgrade to the Internet's original addressing scheme, which is called 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 can support a virtually limitless number of devices: 2 to the 128th power. IPv6 is necessary because the Internet is running out of IPv4 addresses. However, IPv6 is not backwards compatible with IPv4, requiring network operators to support both protocol at an added cost.
The United States is currently leading the world in these six categories of IPv6 deployment:
The United States has more IPv6 users than any other nation in the world. There are 4,193,587 IPv6 users in the U.S. as of Sept. 19, according to APNIC. This compares to 3,717,564 IPv6 users in China and 2,411,587 IPv6 users in Japan. Romania, France and Luxembourg have a higher ratio of Internet users with IPv6 enabled, but the U.S. retains the lead in the total number of IPv6 users.