x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Web intact, but there is still time

The internet did not shut down yesterday, as readers may already presume.

DUBAI // The National's more astute readers will have deduced by now that the internet did not break yesterday.

As a system to cater for a rapidly growing internet population was tried out on "World IPv6 Day", the world wide web seems to have been up to the challenge.

The UAE Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) took part, along with other government organisations and companies such as Yahoo, Google and Facebook.

Despite fears that turning on websites' ability to receive communications from a new type of internet protocol address, called IPv6, would cause billions of error messages, the day went largely without a hitch.

"The internet hasn't broken presently, not to my knowledge," said Steven Winstanley, the chief operating officer of Ankabut, a networking organisation set up by Khalifa University. "World anarchy hasn't broken out, at least not today."

With almost all of the old-style "IPv4" addresses allocated, IPv6 has been introduced to cope with the ever-rising number of internet users.

The problem is that native IPv6 users cannot access websites that use only the old IPv4 addresses.

Yesterday was largely focused on raising the awareness of business for the need to make sites accessible to IPv6 users. Less than 1 per cent of websites have that capacity, posing the chance that millions of people will be cut out of the internet.

So there is still potential for doom.

"It's going to be a slow migration to the new system," said Mr Winstanley. "So we've still got lots of time left for it to break."