HUA HIN, Thailand - Web and technology companies joined forces this week to
test the new Internet protocol on what has been dubbed IPv6 day. Wednesday was
dedicated for the tests, which involved switching from the current Internet
protocol 4 to version 6 for many companies and institutions.
Essentially the web is running out of addresses - there are not enough IPv4
addresses to serve the ever-expanding number of devices connected to the net.
The system, originally devised in the late 1970s, had provision for only 4.3
billion addresses, which at the time was more than enough. Specifications were
drawn up in 1981 at the dawn of the computer age when the first IBM personal
computers were rolled out.
This year, with over 2 billion people online, we have run out. The Internet
Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) allocated its last unused
large blocks of IPv4 addresses to
regional Internet registries in February. Large corporations and agencies in
the US have also been hoarding thousands of them and Asia has been feeling the
The Asia Pacific Internet registry APNIC is expected to be the first to exhaust
its supply due to the increased demand in the region. (See
Digital drought in Asia, Asia Times Online, April 22, 2011.) IPv6 will
offer trillions more Internet addresses as it changes the format from this
188.8.131.52 (ATol's IP address) to this
2001:0db8:85a3:0000:0000:8a2e:0370:7334 by using 128 bit and hexadecimal
instead of 32 bit only.
Google, Yahoo and Facebook were among around 400 companies that conducted a
24-hour test this week employing dual stacking which runs both protocols at the
same time. If a computer were able to communicate with a network on IPv6 it
would, if not it would default back to IPv4. Facebook announced that there were
no slowdowns or outages as around a million users connected to its servers
using IPv6 on Wednesday. Google reported around 65% more traffic on the new
protocol and saw no significant issues.
Very few Internet users experienced problems on Wednesday or were even aware
that these tests were being carried out. It has been estimated that only 0.05%
of the global Internet population would have problems accessing some websites.
By the end of the week, most of those involved in the testing had reverted back
to IPv4, although it is highly likely they will need to run both protocols in
tandem for several years to come.
A website has been set up to offer more information on the tests, the new
protocol, and a couple of online tests to check whether you will have
connectivity issues with IPv6. It can be reached at
The hype over Apple's new cloud computing service continued this week with the
company rolling out a beta version of iTunes with iCloud compatibility. The
music sharing and online storage facility was announced by chief executive
Steve Jobs at the company's Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday.
Apple is denying Windows XP users the chance to use iCloud and has stated that
PC users must be running Vista or Windows 7 to access the service. It is a
strange way of attempting to get new users considering the popularity XP still
has in the operating system marketplace.
The service has been touted by Jobs as a tool to keep multiple (Apple) devices
in synchronization and up to date. It will work across iPhones, iPads and iPods
with music purchased through iTunes, so in essence it is another bolt on the
digital door that keeps consumers locked into one brand - exactly what the
company has in mind. Analysts have referred to iCloud as a system that
increases the stickiness of the Apple ecosystem.
Also announced at the developers' conference was the next iteration of Apple's
mobile operating system, iOS5, and its Mac platform OS X Lion, which promises
much more of the same.
Microsoft, observing the success of Apple's iPad, is rumored to be considering
offering its own branded tablet running Windows 8. The software giant is not
known for producing branded computers but has enjoyed huge successes with its
Xbox gaming console.
Digital entertainment giant Nintendo unveiled a new Wii console at the E3
gaming show in Los Angeles this week. The next generation motion-sensing
console, dubbed Wii U, includes a touch screen and camera and can broadcast
high-definition video. Kyoto-based Nintendo has come under increasing pressure
from rivals Sony and Microsoft in the race for supremacy in the games console
The unit still employs a set-top box but appears to be a hybrid between a
tablet device and a hand-held controller. Gaming information can be shared
between the TV and the controller. Company executives were surprised at the
reaction on the stock market, as shares fell following the announcement despite
strong support from gamers and industry analysts at the show. Nevertheless they
remained upbeat as a similar reaction was observed temporarily when the
original Wii was unveiled in 2006 due to unfamiliarity with the revolutionary
console and its potential.
Sony, meanwhile, sought to use E3 show to attract positive publicity following
recent PlayStation Network hacking fiasco. The company announced a number of
new 3D titles and a PlayStation Vita handheld console.
Microsoft gave a glitzy demo of its Kinect motion sensing console and announced
the next installment of the wildly popular sci-fi shoot-em-up Halo 4. The
company is striving to capture hardcore gamers and by showcasing the new
release of one of the best selling games of all time, Call of Duty Modern
Warfare 3, on the Xbox 360 it may just achieve that goal.
Martin J Young is an Asia Times Online correspondent based in Thailand.