Exhaustion of North America’s IPv4 Addresses Underscores Need for Continued CE Industry Action on IPv6

Citing yesterday’s long-expected announcement that the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) IPv4 Internet address pool has finally been exhausted, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)® today emphasized the need for consumer technology companies to continue joint efforts to move the industry to IPv6.

IPv6, like its predecessor IPv4, is an enabling technology of the Internet of Things (IoT) that allows applications, devices and servers to find and communicate with each other. IPv6 is an Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)-approved specification that is not yet deployed in all consumer electronics (CE) or Internet of Things (IoT) products, but is becoming increasingly important as the Internet continues to grow beyond what IPv4 – an older technology – was able to support.

“There’s no question that the Internet must move to IPv6,” said Brian Markwalter, senior vice president of research and standards, CEA. “There are already more connected devices in the world than IPv4 addressing supports, and companies are using more complicated IPv4 address sharing techniques to compensate. With some projections envisioning more than 50 billion devices connected to the Internet as soon as 2020, the time is now for CE manufactures to help lead the shift to IPv6.”

The Internet has been growing since its inception, and as early as the mid-90’s engineers predicted that the pool of available addresses – based on the IPv4 standard – would be exhausted someday. For the ARIN region, which includes Canada, many Caribbean and North Atlantic islands, and the United States, that day has come. Three of the five world Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) have previously hit this point, including the Asia-Pacific region, Central Asia, Latin America, Europe, Russia and the Middle East.

“With the run out of IPv4 addresses in the ARIN region, Internet Service Providers are increasingly connecting new consumers up to the Internet via IP version 6 (IPv6), the next-generation of the Internet Protocol,” commented John Curran, president and CEO of ARIN. “Consumer electronics manufacturers who have not incorporated IPv6 support need to move promptly to enable IPv6 addressing into their products. ARIN, CEA and others provide the resources necessary to ease the transition and ensure products take advantage of the benefits of IPv6.”

“ARIN’s announcement has huge implications for the Internet of Things,” agreed John Brzozowski, chief architect, IPv6 and Fellow, Comcast. “IPv4 is likely to have increasing issues, for everyone, everywhere. IPv6 was designed to be larger and more secure.”

To deal with this challenge, engineers have devised a number of work-arounds to keep the Internet operating. These approaches do not fix the underlying problem, however, because performance and reliability issues are expected to increase as the Internet grows. Experts point to the same ultimate solution: conversion to IPv6 addressing. Unlike IPv4, which is already overtaxed at its limit of four billion connected devices, IPv6 can handle over 340 trillion trillion trillion devices—more than enough for even the IoT.

“While the majority of CE devices are IPv6-ready, we are entering a critical transition time when the remaining devices need to migrate to IPv6,” said Markwalter. “CEA coordinated one IPv6 industry test event this year and is planning to host future test events to ensure that manufacturers and service providers are all on the same page. We also are undertaking key standards setting activities and leveraging CES 2016 to educate the industry.”

Owned and produced by CEA, CES is the world’s largest showcase for connected devices and the IoT. CES 2016 attendees will have the opportunity to learn from a number of experts on various conference sessions on the challenges in deploying the Internet of Things and CEA’s efforts to work cross-industry to address these challenges.

CEA’s standards committees produce standards, guidelines and technical reports that help grow the consumer technology industry. All are welcome and encouraged to join any of CEA’s technology activities. For further information please visit or contact [email protected].

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