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Google, Facebook, Yahoo and several networking companies will on Wednesday carry out a massive test of IPv6, the new version of the internet protocol that allows 340 trillion trillion trillion IP addresses, rather than the 4.3 billion IP addresses possible with IPv4.
IPv6 will be needed as the world's stock of IPv4 addresses runs out and as billions of new devices — ranging from handsets to lightbulbs — require their own IP addresses. However, the switchover also requires a lot of testing, which is why Google and the other companies in the Internet Society are carrying out the 24-hour 'test flight' of making their services available over IPv6.
"In all likelihood, you won't even notice the test," Google network engineer and 'IPv6 samurai' Lorenzo Colitti said in a blog post on Monday. "The vast majority (99.95 percent) of people will be able to access services without interruption: either they'll connect over IPv6, or their systems will successfully fall back to IPv4."