Commerce Dept. Seeks Input on New Internet Protocol Rollout

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By Michaela Ross

Aug. 18 — Internet-connected devices will demand exponentially more unique addresses to function online in the next several years, prompting the U.S. Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration to seek public input on how to promote a new IP address system.

Every device with internet capabilities—from laptops to printers—requires its own IP address, which functions similar to a traditional telephone number to identify and connect machines. The 4.3 billion IP addresses in the current internet protocol system, IPv4, are quickly being depleted.

Gadgets from smart watches to sensor-controlled thermostats may demand 200 billion IP addresses globally by 2020, the NTIA said in an Aug. 18 blog post seeking comment.

The agency wants to promote the adoption of the next generation protocol system, IPv6, and wants to hear from organizations who have already implemented it, along with other interested parties.

New Addresses ‘Critical'

“The transition to IPv6, which was designed to expand the number of IP addresses, is critical for the continued, sustainable growth of the Internet,” the agency wrote in a Federal Register notice Aug. 18.

The new protocol system, which offers 340 undecillion addresses—the number 340 followed by 36 digits—is “more than able” to meet the rising demand for internet connections, the agency said. The protocol has been in development since 1995, but adoption has been slow. Only about a third of internet services in the U.S. are IPv6 capable, according to the agency.

Companies should plan for implementation now to lay a solid digital infrastructure foundation, the NTIA wrote in the notice.

To develop guidelines and best practices in IPv6 adoption, the administration is requesting information about the benefits of the new internet protocol and its return on investment, as well as costs and obstacles in its implementation. Comments may be used to develop future initiatives as well as the IPv6 Best Practice Forum being organized for the 2016 Internet Governance Forum, the NTIA said.

Comment submissions to the U.S. Commerce Department are due Oct. 3.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michaela Ross in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Keith Perine at

For More Information

The Federal Register notice is available here:

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