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What is an IP address

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Communication networks require a mechanism that allows them to identify each of the devices that connect to them, that is how an IP address is born.

IP means Internet Protocol, and it’s used for the exchange of data packets between computers connected to a network. So, an IP address is a set of numbers assigned to each device connected to a computer network that uses the Internet Protocol.

Types of IP addresses

Probably on many occasions you have heard of public and private IPs, and although they are constituted in the same way, their reasons for being are different. A public IP is the identifying code of a network to the outside and is assigned to the router by the service provider.

On the other hand, private IPs are granted to each device linked to our internal network (pc, tablets, mobile phones, among others), this distribution is generally performed by the router dynamically through a DHCP server (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol), just as it can be done manually through a network server designating static IPs.

In a different order of ideas, let’s talk about another way to classify IPs. At the beginning of the Internet Age the IPv4 protocol was created. This protocol offers an approximate quantity of 4,300 million IP addresses, however, currently it no longer has new IPs available, working only with the reuse of existing ones.

Given this fact, by 1998 a new 128-bit encoded IPv6 protocol had been designed capable of offering 340 sextillion addresses, which offers the opportunity to provide billions of IPs per inhabitant of the planet. This protocol is intended to replace IPv4, but it is a slow process to the point that at the end of 2019 approximately only 30% of all devices connected to the internet are using IPv6.

The Internet of Things and IP addresses

For the past couple of years, the term “Internet of Things” (IoT) has become very popular, used to refer to the M2M (machine to machine) connection, which refers to communication between machines.

This is possible since most devices today have chips and sensors capable of receiving, processing and transmitting information, making it possible for these devices to make decisions in real time, which is known as fog computing.

Due to the accelerated incorporation of devices with M2M connection to everyday life, it is essential to complete the transition from IPv4 to IPv6, since now everything from microwaves to traffic lights will need IP addresses of the latter type.

The implementation of this process corresponds to the telecommunications companies and Internet service providers, otherwise we would be faced with the possibility of limiting connectivity at some point.

As a curious fact we can mention that Mexico currently has 37.83% of computers connected to the Internet using IPv6 protocols (according to Google’s IPv6 adoption monitor). Thus, together with Brazil, they make up the Latin American countries with the greatest compliance with this transition.

Lastly, we have to add that the arrival of the fifth generation (5G) mobile communication network will facilitate the implementation of the Internet of Things, improving the data transmission speed to reach 10 Gigabits per second (100 times more than enjoyed with now).

Therefore, the definitive adoption of the IPv6 protocol in its entirety is essential to cover the demand for IP addresses in the short term.

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