World IPv6 Launch Day is a voluntary event designed to bring momentum to IPv6, the long-anticipated upgrade to the Internet's main communications protocol, which is called IPv4. IPv6 is needed because the Internet is running out of addresses with IPv4. Asia ran out of unassigned IPv4 addresses last year, Europe is expected to deplete its supply this summer, and North America's will expire next year.
BACKGROUND: Rehearsals over, IPv6 goes prime time June 6
IPv4 uses 32-bit addresses and can support 4.3 billion devices connected directly to the Internet. IPv6 uses 128-bit addresses and can connect up a virtually unlimited number of devices: 2 to the 128th power. Deployment of IPv6 has been hampered by the fact that it is not backward compatible with IPv4. So network operators must either deploy both protocols in what's called dual-stack mode or translate between them, which adds latency and cost.
Internet policymakers have been trying to drum up support for IPv6 with events like World IPv6 Launch Day, which has been successful in raising the visibility of IPv6. But there's no question that encouraging U.S. companies to deploy IPv6 remains an uphill battle.
"With World IPv6 Launch Day on June 6, organizations have got to make sure they have IPv6 plans or they are not selling complete Internet services," said John Curran, president and CEO of the American Registry for Internet Numbers, which provides IPv4 and IPv6 addresses to U.S. network operators. "On June 6, ISPs are turning it on and leaving it on permanently. This is the day that the Internet is now dual-stack, IPv4 and IPv6."
U.S. corporations that aren't participating in World IPv6 Launch Day include publishers such as The Huffington Post and The New York Times and broadcasters such as CNN, ESPN and Fox News. Among entertainment companies, neither Hulu nor Disney is participating. Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Chase Bank aren't signed up, and neither is Walmart or the Weather Channel.
Even the leading online porn sites -- LiveJasmin and PornHub -- appear to be IPv6-free for now.
"There are definitely people living in denial about the inevitability of IPv6," DeLong said.