Internet forum urges update to new Internet protocol by 2010

By Gwen Ackerman, Bloomberg

Companies face a 2010 deadline to upgrade their servers to a new Internet Protocol version as the global inventory of unassigned addresses reaches its limit, said Latif Ladid, president of the IPv6 Forum.

The forum, a non-profit organization, is promoting Internet Protocol version 6, or IPv6, which was written to meet the need for more IP addresses. The current standard IPv4 is close to assigning all the 4.3 billion addresses it is capable of holding. The Internet is growing between 100 percent and 500 percent annually depending on the region, Ladid said.

“This growth will stop if companies don’t make the transition to the new protocol,” Ladid said at a conference near Tel Aviv Sunday. “There will be no new networks, no new routers. Developing countries will not be able to add networks or connectivity.”

The new version brings security enhancements that will render obsolete the need for add-ons such as virtual private networks. Its lengthy string of numbers, which will reach 128 bits as compared with 32 bits now, may stop all IP-originated virus attacks. The protocol can generate 56.9 billion addresses for each gram of matter on earth, according to the forum’s Web site.

Cisco Systems Inc., the world’s biggest maker of computer- networking gear, has embedded the IPv6 protocol into its new network stacks, Ladid said. Microsoft Corp., the world’s biggest maker of software, has IPv6 incorporated into its new Windows Vista, he said.

The U.S. government is making the transition to the new protocol as are European states, he said. Of the 8,000 major Internet service providers worldwide, 1,800 have made the move, he said. About 1,500 engineers from 50 countries wrote the new protocol and the upgrade is free for now, Ladid said.

Ladid will meet Israeli Communications Minister Ariel Atias tomorrow to enlist his help in getting Israeli companies and start-ups to move over to the new protocol.

“Israel is a benchmark, a cutting edge nation,” said Limor Schafman, head of the IPv6 Forum in Israel. “It is known for the development of the instant messaging program ICQ and the Intel mobile chip.”