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What is IPv6?

IPv6 is the latest version of the Internet Protocol, which identifies devices across the internet to be located. Every device that uses the internet is identified through its IP address for internet communication to work. In that respect, it’s just like the street addresses and zip codes you need to know in order to mail a letter.

The previous version, IPv4, uses a 32-bit addressing scheme to support 4.3 billion devices, which was thought to be enough. However, the growth of the internet, personal computers, smartphones, and now the Internet of Things devices proves that the world needed more addresses.

Fortunately, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) recognized this 20 years ago. In 1998 it created IPv6, which instead uses 128-bit addressing to support approximately 340 trillion (or 2 to the 128th power, if you like). Instead of the IPv4 address method of four sets of one- to three-digit numbers, IPv6 uses eight groups of four hexadecimal digits, separated by colons. The IPv6 protocol can handle packets more efficiently, improve performance and increase security. It enables internet service providers to reduce the size of their routing tables by making them more hierarchical.

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