Journal of International Technology and Information Management

Document Type



There are currently two versions of Internet Protocol (IP) in use today, IP version 4 (IPv4) and IP version 6 (IPv6). The original version, IPv4, was standardized in the early 1980s as part of the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency Internet program and became the official Internet protocol in 1983 (Kleinrock, 2010). IPv6 was standardized in 1995 as its successor to provide enhanced capabilities and address IPv4 technological limitations, most notable of which was the anticipated exhaustion of address space (Deering & Hinden, 1995). While the two protocols have some functional similarities, they are distinct and not backward compatible; IPv4-only devices cannot communicate directly with IPv6-only devices and vice-versa. Consequently, organizations wishing to take full advantage of the enhanced features of IPv6 must upgrade their entire network infrastructure and end devices to support IPv6, while at the same time maintaining IPv4 support for legacy systems that will not or cannot be upgraded. The costs and risks associated with upgrading an entire network to support a new protocol with no intrinsic return on investment has acted as a disincentive for IPv6 adoption. To be sure, the transition of the Internet to IPv6 has certainly taken a leisurely pace over the past twenty years. Given the slow pace of adoption, it is understandable that many doubted, and may still doubt that IPv6 will ever become the dominant Internet protocol and replace IPv4. However, in line with diffusion of innovations theory, it is the case with many innovations that potential adopters do not perceive any relative advantage, thus leading to a particularly slow adoption take-up rate. This is especially true with communications technologies that have high interdependence and require a critical mass of users before adoption becomes self-sustaining and rapidly accelerates (Rogers 2003). The goal of this paper is to provide empirical evidence showing that IPv6 adoption has reached critical mass and is now in a phase of accelerating adoption projected to continue. A methodology for monitoring the quality of IPv6 enablement and global IPv6 support is also provided so that the user experience over IPv6 can be assessed against the IPv4 baseline.