The Internet
At inception the Internet was a project to protect US homeland and International military installations; if there was an active nuclear attack then communications must remain open at all times. If a city or major location of importance was destroyed then all communications would effectively have been stopped. The US Military, Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) set about designing a system to ensure communications were kept open at all times and would not be affected by single or multiple failures. They achieved this and designed a method to ensure open communications if one or more nodes were lost. It was likened to a spiders web, in that if one line to a location was lost, other routes still existed to flow around and avoid the previous single point of failure.

This system was designed over 40 years ago and in 1969, ARPA linked this to the University network in the US to assist with education projects – making the flow and sharing of information infinitely more effective. In 1977 ARPAnet realised after the success and growth of its network that they were going to have to improve the technology. They devised TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol over Internet Protocol – this is the very same system that we use today. Each device that was connected to a simple phone line or even a local area network was given a unique IP address. TCP/IP breaks down information into small packets of data, which can individually be given a unique destination address and importantly the means to reach that address (the destination being a computer on the “Network” or other connected device). The data packet is switched on its journey to the relevant IP address or connected device. Importantly, each packet is not necessarily routed specifically together. Packets from a particular file can take multiple, individual paths to reach a shared destination. As you can appreciate this is an important factor and has been fundamental to the success of the Internet.

In 1983, ARPAnet was 100% switched over to utilise TCP/IP and became known as the Internet as we know it today. The National Science Foundation (NSF) funded most of the early development of the Internet, but on April 30, 1995, the U.S. government realised that the Internet would be a game changer for commercial networks. The old National Science Foundation backbone was shut down. The rest is history.

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  • 1960’s US government seeks nuclear war proof communications, briefs project to APRA
  • 1969 Universities and researches connected to ARPAnet
  • 1977 ARPAnet engineers realise the network is going to grow beyond expectations
  • 1983 ARPAnet switched to TCP/IP
  • 1989 Tim Berners-Lee proposes a new set of Internet protocols
  • 1995 US government releases Internet for commercial use
The Current Situation
The inevitable happened and new allocations of IPv4, from governing bodies like RIPE (Réseaux IP Européens Network Coordination Centre), have or are close to running out. The replacement, IPv6 is the latest revision of IP – there is a great deal more of “it” than IPv4. As you can appreciate new space is required because more and more devices are being connected to the Internet all the time.

As time lapses IPv6 will be more and more prevalent because new devices will have to adopt an IPv6 address and to make the most from the Internet, IPv6 should be adopted.

SystemIP uses both IPv4 & IPv6. In fact, we have achieved a RIPE 5 star IPv6 rating. This means that our network has been accredited with the highest rating for IPv6 performance and readiness - direct evidence that we have one of the most effective IP networks available today.

Your future is safe with us – our network is built to cater for both IPv4 and IPv6, we have a “dual-stack” network. It’s true to say that’s not the case with all ISP’s. There are translation methods between IPv4 and IPv6 but these are not optimal and will always be considered less than 100% effective. This is because of the complex nature of networks and protocols.

IPv4 has over 4 billion IP addresses to use which, at inception in 1981, was considered to be a large enough number to cater for the growth of network attached devices that would required a unique IP. It was thought that number would prove inexhaustible - but instead the rapid growth of the Internet has seen the addresses deplete in number, which is not surprising. Simply put, the length of an IPv6 address is longer (128bits) compared to IPv4 (34bits). This results in a huge number of IPv6 addresses - roughly 340 trillion, trillion, trillion being available. To try and put that into perspective apparently that’s 4 million addresses per square meter of the Earth's surface.

Asia Pac ran out of space in September 2011, Europe and the Middle East region ran out in September 2012 and The Americas are set to run out shortly.

As the impact of IPv4 space running out increases more and more devices will be adopting and transitioning to IPv6. At the moment IPv4 and IPv6 will co-exist through translating methods within the Internet.

Be assured that SystemIP still have ample IPv4 space available for your organisation and will set you up with IPv6 space for the future as well. Importantly, we are committed to work with you to develop an overall strategy to ensure you always get the most from your Internet solution.

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