Nearly five years ago, there was an official ceremony in Miami, Florida that marked the end of the free pool of IPv4 addresses. As of February 3, 2011, the Internet Assigned Number Authority (IANA) no longer had any free blocks of IPv4 address space to give out to the Regional Internet Registries (RIRs). Despite that ceremony, IPv4 has continued to dominate, though its successor, IPv6, is making strides.
Google publishes regular statistics on the percentage of its users that access Google over IPv6. Google was among the major vendors that participated in World IPv6 Launch Day in 2012. As of that date, many of the world's largest Internet properties turned IPv6 access on, and left it on, in a bid to help facilitate the transition form IPv4 to IPv6. IPv4 provides for up to 4.3 billion addresses, while IPv6 has a 128-bit addressing scheme and support for 340 trillion, trillion, trillion (34 x 10 to the 38th power) Internet addresses.
In January 2013, six months after World IPv6 Launch Day, Google's IPv6 traffic reached a scant one percent. Now, in January 2016, Google's statistics show IPv6 usage at 10 percent and growing fast.
"We consider hitting the 10 percent mark a major milestone," Phil Roberts, Technology Programme Manager at the Internet Society, wrote in a blog post.
Roberts noted that the Internet Society had optimistically forecast that IPv6 adoption would hit 10 percent by the end of 2015. Mobile network providers in the U.S. are helping to lead the charge toward pervasive IPv6 adoption. Across Verizon Wireless, Sprint Wireless, AT&T Wireless and T-Mobile USA, the Internet Society's statistics show that nearly 38 percent of traffic comes over IPv6.
"Much remains to be done to see pervasive IPv6 in the Internet," Roberts wrote. "We’ve seen significant broadband deployments across the world, and more recently we are encouraged to see uptake of IPv6 in mobile networks."
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Enterprise Networking Planet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.