The Internet Society has announced that it's working with major ISPs, makers of home networking equipment and Web companies to permanently enable IPv6. Said to be the largest transition in the Internet's history, the shift away from IPv4 will commence on June 6, 2012, building on the success of last June's "World IPv6 Day" event. Among the participants are AT&T, Comcast, Free Telecom, Internode, KDDI, Time Warner Cable, XS4ALL, Cisco, D-Link, Facebook, Google, Microsoft Bing and Yahoo.

"The fact that leading companies across several industries are making significant commitments to participate in World IPv6 Launch is yet another indication that IPv6 is no longer a lab experiment; it's here and is an important next step in the Internet's evolution," commented Leslie Daigle of the Internet Society. "World IPv6 Launch marks a watershed moment in Internet history. It breaks the limits of the original address space to open a vast new territory, trillions upon trillions of times larger," said Google.

In January 2010, the Number Resource Organization warned that IPv4 addresses were nearly tapped with under 10% left. That dipped to less than 5% by October 2010. IPv4 (32-bit) has roughly four billion IP addresses -- nowhere near enough to cover the explosion of people, devices and services on the Web. In fact, Asia's supply of IPv4 addressed dried up in April 2011, Europe is projected to run out this summer, while North America only has enough unallocated addresses to last through mid-2013.

However, IPv6 (128-bit) offers some 340 undecillion addresses (340 billion, billion, billion, billion -- that's 36 zeros). Crisis averted. The move has been underway for years and it will take several more to complete, but for industry titans like Google, June 6 will bring a nearly full adoption of the spec. The Internet Society says ISPs participating in World IPv6 Launch day will enable the protocol for enough users so at least 1% of their wireline residential subscribers visiting compliant websites will use IPv6.