Reader Question (JTRS) – Could You Explain What IPv6 is?

Devices that connect to the Internet or wide area networks require a unique address, very similar to your mailing address at home. Under the current IP or Internet Protocol standard, version 4 or IPv4, there are not sufficient addresses to uniquely identify all of the devices that are accessing the Internet. Very simply, we are running out of addresses.

Implementing Internet Protocol version 6, or IPv6, gives us 2128 possible addresses. This is a simple yx function on your calculator. If you enter 2 then 128 and press yx you’ll see 3.40282366921×1038. A very large number, so the address pool is much larger and capable of accommodating growth.

IPv6 also does away with an addressing/routing strategy called NAT or Network Address Translation. There are a number of issues associated with NAT.

First let’s understand what NAT does. Local area networks like the one at home or your office are usually implemented using non-routable IP addresses. For example, IP addresses like In order for these devices to communicate with the outside world (The Internet) they must go through a device called a router. A router performs a variety of functions that I won’t discuss here; however, one of its principal functions is NAT. So, the Internet (or Wide Area Network) sends a data stream to the router’s unique and routable IP address instead of sending it to the device requesting the information. The router receives the data stream, and using NAT, decides what node or device should receive it. The system works quite well most of the time; however, it creates a couple of problems when trying to form adhoc networks on the fly and under battlefield conditions. 

  • Problem number 1, every adhoc network has to have at least one routing device possibly more. Furthermore, it places as tremendous load or burden on the routing device because of the complexity of the routing tables needed; thus, contributing to network congestion and latency.
  • Problem number 2, nodes, or ports on nodes (like a radio with a port for video, data or voice) cannot be addressed directly as it may not have a unique routable IP address. This limits the near neural quality of the adhoc network where it may be critically important to address a single port on a device. For example, a fire control sequence to an unattended weapon station.


Hope it helps you and thanks for the question…

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