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What is IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6)? Explained

Many teachers and students are increasingly finding that they need to be familiar with networking protocols. A basic understanding of uses, features, terminology and configurations is required. Due to the explosive expansion of the Internet, IPv4 is unable to handle demand.

IPv6 is the next proposed standard for Internet communications. The differences with the other versions come in the address, configuration and security categories. Beta construction enabled for IPv6 has been released.

IPv6 has methods to facilitate the transition.


IPv6 address length is 128 bits. The full amount of addresses is unavailable due to insufficient network numbering. Hierarchy of addressing and cotterminus issues.


The colon separates 8 groups of 4 hexadecimal characters that make up the IPv6 address. The back zero has to be included. All groups must represent one character. The leading zero does not change the numeric value of the number.

Another format was developed for common addresses that have zero long strings. This method allows a continuous series of zeros to be compressed into a double colon.

The third format is intended for mixed environments using IPv6 and IPv4. While the last 32 bits are written in decimals as IPv4 addresses, the first six groups of IPv6 addresses are hexadecimal prefixes. This also allows for compression. There is no ambiguity in determining the full address, while all formats still specify exactly 128 bits.

Address types

IPv6 refers to a variety of addresses for specific purposes. These include specific subtypes. More than one address in the node may be assigned to it. However, the IPv6 specification controls the minimum types of address nodes and the amount of addresses. Unicast addresses assign assignments with one node. Each node must have at least one unicast address.

Multicast address is assigned to a multicast group. Multicast group shares a familiar address. This type of address is used when the same data is sent to multiple nodes to reduce the bandwidth that would be required if it is sent to each node. Because it is bandwidth-intensive, streaming video sent to a multicast address is a good example.

Any cast address is also assigned to a group of nodes. However, it is sufficient that one node receives the data.


IPv6 offers multiple configuration methods, for example, stateless auto-configuration, stateful auto configuration, manual configuration. Manual configuration is based on implementation. When manual configuration of hosts or additional servers is not required, stateless autoconfiguration is used. Stateful Auto Configuration is special because it receives interface address configuration as well as parameter information from the host server.


This process allows the network host to generate a unique address based on the network topology. This process involves creating a link-local address, checking its uniqueness in the link, and deciding which information should be auto-configured.

Information Generation

The client generates a request message and sends it to the server to request configuration parameters. To request additional configuration information, the client uses its self-generated link-local address of the interface it wants to configure. The server later responds with reply messages containing the requested configuration parameters. This may include status information related to the information requested by the client. Client can create multiple request messages. After that, it can send each to a different server to generate different information as needed.


Three objectives are envisaged for a successful transition to IPv6. The main goal is uninterrupted communication for IPv6 and IPv4 hosts. Also, IPv6 routers and hosts are configured in a specific framework without interdependence across the Internet. Finally, the transition should be easily understood by all.