IPv6 is designed as a successor to IP version 4, the main protocol used worldwide.
In Japan, the rally for IPv6 is being helmed by Nippon Telegraph and Telephon (NTT) and KDDI who already have networks in place, and in China, the government and several major telecommunications companies are already starting to build large networks based on the IPv6 standard.
Part of Japan's accelerated pace to secure IPv6 networks is the result of a new government policy to create a ubiquitous network that allows devices to communicate over IPv6.
The push for IPv6 is also expected to give way to a boom in the technology industry in terms of next-generation gadgetry that can fully benefit from IPv6 compatibility. Although there is still speculation that it could take another five to eight years to see any return on the investment to upgrade networks.
The U.S. has said that it doesn't expect to switch to IPv6 for another five years.
According to the IPv6 Forum, the new web standard can allow for an infinite number of web addresses, making it possible for every home appliance or device to be given its own address. IP version 4 only allows for four billion addresses, says the IPv6 Forum.
IPv6 also provides header format simplification, support for extensions and options, flow labeling capability, built-in encryption, and a provision for "plug and play" configuration that will make it easier to create convergence among computers, mobile devices, and appliances.
"As broadband networks become more common, we believe it will open the door to new services and devices beyond Internet surfing and email such as smart appliances that will require more secure networks than are available now," the vice president at NTT Communications told Reuters.
The next Global IPv6 Summit will take place in Beijing, China, from April 12-14, 2004.