Internet access is a critical service for businesses; the internet economy is worth £100bn in the UK alone, contributing to over 7% of GDP. Over time we have come to expect a certain level of performance and user experience from business internet. We also take it for granted that we will be able to reach everyone, and everyone will be able to reach us.
Internet Protocol version 6 was developed to deal with the exhaustion of IPv4. There are a number of differences between IPv4 and IPv6, but the most important is the huge increase in available address space. The length of an IPv6 address is 128 bits, compared to 32 bits in IPv4, so we have 340 undecillion possible addresses. This means if we had been assigning IPv6 addresses at a rate of 1 billion per second since the earth was formed, we would have by now used up less than one trillionth of the address space.
It is important to note that there is no reliable method of translation between IPv4 and IPv6. When IPv4 has run out, businesses can no longer make the assumption that the entire Internet will be reachable, or that they themselves will be universally reachable. Unfortunately no organisation can isolate itself or hide from these issues: the internet is a global network. The world will keep adding users, content and services, therefore we must all act to ensure compatibility in the future.
BtL will take steps to ensure that our own supply of IPv4 addresses lasts as long as possible, but eventually we will run out. We are intending, with careful planning, to be assigning IPv4 space for at least the next 2 years. At this point BtL will only be able to issue new customers with IPv6 addresses. We expect the IPv4 Internet to persist for many years until IPv6 has been universally deployed.BtL will maintain its usual high level of service and support for business internet services during this time.
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