June 03, 2011, 9:42 AM — The largest experiment in the 40-year history of the Internet will take place on Wednesday, as hundreds of Web sites test a new standard called IPv6 that can support vastly more devices with faster, lower-cost connectivity than today's technology.
The Internet's biggest players - including Google, Facebook, Yahoo and Microsoft - are among the 318 corporations, universities and government agencies that are participating in World IPv6 Day.
On June 8, these Web sites will serve up content using IPv6 as well as the current standard called IPv4. This large-scale IPv6 trial will allow network engineers to determine how well IPv6 works and to pinpoint technical difficulties such as misconfigured systems that will cause delays for some end users trying to access participating Web sites.
The 24-hour event is already being hailed as a success for raising the visibility of IPv6 in the five months since it was announced by its sponsor, the Internet Society.
"A main goal for World IPv6 Day has been to encourage content providers and ISPs to break the existing 'chicken-and-egg' challenge of IPv6 deployment by coming together to take the plunge of turning on IPv6 for 24 hours," said ISOC spokesman Greg Wood. "We've had tremendous response with hundreds of websites around the world signing up to participate."
The Internet needs IPv6 because it is running out of addresses using IPv4. The free pool of unassigned IPv4 addresses expired in February, and in April the Asia Pacific region ran out of all but a few IPv4 addresses being held in reserve for startups. The American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN), which doles out IP addresses to network operators in North America, says it will deplete its supply of IPv4 addresses this fall.