Cox Communications is conducting active trials with business customers with the next generation of Internet Protocol, IPv6, as the remaining supply of IPv4 addresses could be used up in less than a year.
As of last month, less than 5% of IPv4 addresses remained unallocated, meaning the current 4.29 billion IPv4 addresses could be depleted by mid-2011 or earlier, according to the Number Resource Organization (NRO), the organization that oversees the allocation of all Internet number resources.
IPv6 has an astronomically large 128-bit address space, compared with IPv4's 32-bit numbering scheme.
Cox said its core network is fully IPv6 compliant and the company is migrating the network edge and support infrastructure to meet customer demand.
"By migrating to IPv6, Cox is future-proofing its network, systems and products," Cox principal architect Jason Weil said in a statement. "Cox's dual-stack IPv6 deployment allows customers the ability to continue leveraging their current IPv4 capability while incrementally adding the IPv6 support required for the next generation of network devices and applications."
The Cox Business unit has almost 250,000 small and regional businesses and supports more than 730,000 business phone lines.
Other Internet service providers that have announced IPv6 readiness or testing include Comcast and Verizon.
Initially, Internet service providers may use large-scale IPv4 network address translation before adopting IPv6. In addition, vendors including Cisco Systems are pitching IPv4-to-IPv6 network address translation products to assist in the years-long migration to IPv6.