Summary:

World IPv6 Day, a 24-hour test of the new version of the Internet address protocol IPv6, is slated to begin on Wednesday June 8th at midnight UTC. With Google, Yahoo, Facebook, and many others participating, how will the Internet handle the big test?

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How the time flies. World IPv6 Day, a 24-hour test of the new version of the Internet address protocol IPv6, is slated to begin on Wednesday, June 8, at midnight UTC– which is Tuesday, June 7, at 5:00 PM Pacific Time.

It’s been clear for years now that a shortage of available Internet addresses was bound to occur under the current IPv4 protocol. And in February, the IP address distribution organization ICANN announced that the 4.2 billion addresses available under the IPv4 protocol had all been taken up. IPv6 supports a much higher number of addresses — 340 undecillion, to be exact– so the transition from IPv4 to IPv6 is largely understood to be a difficult but necessary step for the long-term maintenance of the world wide web.

With all the coverage of the IP address shortage issue — we’ve been covering the topic for years — it’s a bit hard to believe that the time has come for a large-scale test of the new protocol. Google, Yahoo, Facebook and several Internet networking companies are all taking part in World IPv6 Day and will offer their content over IPv6 for a test run of the protocol.

So what will World IPv6 Day mean for the average Internet user? Not much, according to Facebook network engineer Donn Lee. “We anticipate that 99.97% of users will not be affected at all,” Lee wrote in a company blog post about Facebook’s participation in World IPv6 Day. “The small number of users who may be affected may find that pages are slow to load and we are working to minimize the impact.”

Google, which plans to deliver virtually all of its services including Search, Gmail and YouTube over IPv6 for the entirety of the 24-hour test, expects a similarly low impact for the end user. “In all likelihood, you won’t even notice the test,” Google network engineer Lorenzo Colitti wrote in a company blog post. “The vast majority (99.95 percent) of people will be able to access services without interruption: either they’ll connect over IPv6, or their systems will successfully fall back to IPv4.”

That still leaves a potential .05 percent of end users who could experience failures. According to Colitti, failures will most likely be “slow or unresponsive” experiences on participating websites such as Google, Facebook, Yahoo or Bing. People can test how well their computer is expected to handle IPv6 through Google’s IPv6 test or at the independently run website Test-ipv6.com.

Are you undergoing any preparations for IPv6 Day? How do you expect the big transition to pan out? Let us know in the comments.

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