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Out with the old, in with the new.

That’s what’s happening in the world of Internet Protocols, as Internet Protocol Version 4 (IPv4) is gradually replaced by Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6). If you want an overview of what that involves, you can read our last blog post — What Is IPv6 and Why Does It Matter? but you may also be wondering why it even needs to happen.

What’s the difference between IPv4 and IPv6 anyway?

So let’s dive a little deeper into what sets IPv6 and IPv4 apart, and the impacts the switch could have on businesses that rely on the Internet to thrive.

What Is IPv4?

Internet Protocol (IP) was established to connect devices to the Internet, routing data packets across networks to where they need to be. And after three experimental versions, Internet Protocol Version 4 was the first version of IP to actually be deployed — making its original debut in 1982.

Today, IPv4 is still the predominant Internet Protocol in use, responsible for carrying more than 90% of Internet traffic. It is proven technology with an existing infrastructure firmly in place.

So why does it need to be replaced?

It comes down to the fact that IPv4 relies on a unique 32-bit address, assigned to each device connected to the Internet. But that 32-bit format only has the capacity to provide approximately 4.3 billion unique IP addresses. While that may sound like a lot, those addresses are rapidly running out. Another solution is needed.

That’s where IPv6 comes in.

What Is IPv6?

Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6) is the next generation of Internet Protocol. Created in 1998, it was developed by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) in anticipation of the problem we’re rapidly approaching today: the fact that we’re running out of 32-bit IPv4 addresses.

IPv6 differs from IPv4 in that it employs 128-bit addressing instead of 32-bit addressing. And since the addresses are longer, it can connect more devices.

In fact, IPv6 promises to support a grand total of 340 trillion trillion trillion addresses. Hopefully, that’s enough to last a long time.

What’s the Difference?

To really get a sense of how different IPv4 and IPv6 are, let’s look at what each of these IP addresses look like:

  • An IPv4 address is made up of four groups of numbers (known as octets), separated by three periods. It might look something like this:
  • A normal IPv6 address, on the other hand, is made up of eight groups of numbers and letters (called segments), separated by seven colons. Here’s an example: 2001:0db8:3333:4444:0000:DDDD:EEEE:4332.

In addition to being longer and incorporating letters as well as numbers, IPv6 has some added benefits as well. Namely, it offers simpler and more efficient routing and auto-configuration, as well as built-in authentication and privacy support.

IPv6 can also stay connected to more than one network at the same time. And finally, it supports multicast addressing, which lets it better enable bandwidth-intensive data such as multimedia streams, even when that data is being sent to more than one destination at the same time.

Both IPv4 and IPv6 have been found to be relatively the same when it comes to overall speed, but those changes could offer slight performance improvements once IPv6 is up and running.


The switch from IPv4 to IPv6 is happening behind the scenes, and probably won’t be something the average person pays much attention to. But for businesses that want to ensure their performance stays on track, it’s something worth keeping an eye on, to ensure you’re always getting the most out of your Internet connection.

With that in mind, our next blog post will look at things you should consider when implementing IPv6 into your business.

Find out more about Xplore Business’s connectivity solutions.

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