IPv6 Address: Impact, Structure & Types

Instructor: Stephen Perkins

Stephen is a technology and electronics expert who has a passion for the work that he does.

IPv6 will become the most significant advancement in networking we have seen in a long time. This lesson will take you through a brief history of IPv6, why it is necessary, and other critical topics as well.

What is IPv6?

For starters, an IP address is a unique identifier in the field of networking that identifies the physical coordinates of a device that is connected online. In home networks, the internet service provider (ISP) gives your home location a physical IP address that can be traced back to your modem via coordinates. Every household that connects to the internet and all online websites need an IP address to make it unique for identification purposes.

We have made use of IPv4 for many years, but eventually, the limited number of IP addresses that can be issued will run dry. With IPv4, a maximum of 4.3 billion addresses are available, and we are fast approaching that limit. This is where IPv6 comes into play as it offers virtually an unlimited number of IP address that can be assigned to devices and services. With mobile devices starting to take over the world of technology, it was only a matter of time before we ran out of IP addresses. The sheer number of devices, especially mobile, is said to increase exponentially over the next few years alone.

Why is it Important?

Aside from being able to overcome the physical limitations of IP addresses that IPv4 has, IPv6 offers a few key advantages as well. All current IPv4 devices must rely on what is known as NAT (Network Address Translation) to retrieve the IP address identifier. Using a NAT allows all devices connected to a network to be identified as the single IPv4 address given to you by your ISP. No matter which device you use in your home network, they will all display the same location as the primary IP address by default.

With IPv6, there will be no need to use a NAT, which means all devices will be able to be identified with a unique IP address of their own. IPv6 also allows for a more fine-tuned control over individual devices since each device will be assigned with a unique IP address. This allows for the router or modem to interact with these devices specifically, making way for more accurate communication between them. Security is also much higher with IPv6 since the authenticity of each network packet is encrypted. Encrypting the packets being sent and received over the network ensures that packet spoofing will be harder to accomplish by a potential attacker.

The Structure

In IPv4, the standard IP address would be formatted as such:, but it is entirely different with IPv6. There are 128 bits (binary digits) in IPv6, which gets converted into a hexadecimal format so that it can be used in networking. That large set of 0's and 1's once converted will look like this IPv6 example format: 6e3d:e161:de2a:eb9e:28af:86bc:55a3:e5ce.

This will be the new format of IP addresses going forward once IPv4 addresses run out, and they are quite a bit longer than most people are used to seeing.

How IPv6 gets translated from 128 bits to usable hexadecimal code.

The IPv6 packet payload is a combination of a fixed header, an extension header and an upper layer protocol data unit(PDU).

The IPv6 has a fixed header format which is broken down into eight separate sections as described below. The fixed header contains all the information necessary for a router:

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