BT is teaming up with Microsoft to trial an IPv6 network, the next generation internet protocol which will create an infinite number of new web addresses.
The current internet protocol, IPv4, has a capacity limited to four billion internet addresses, making it difficult to add users or new devices to the internet. IPv6 will create increased address space, ensuring internet growth.
BT will use the free trial, open to all interested parties, to test connectivity and services around the new protocol. Microsoft Research will provide IPv6 software for Windows 2000 servers for use in the trial network. (See below for download details.)
Stewart Davies, director of advanced communications engineering at BT, said: "Mobile internet applications and new generations of mobile phones and personal organisers will stimulate demand for huge numbers of extra IP addresses - far more than the original IPv4 protocol can provide.
"IPv6 makes that massive growth possible by creating enough addresses for every person and machine on the planet many times over."
According to BT, the new protocol will have new security standards which will boost the prospects for ebusiness. It will also differentiate between traffic types of different urgencies such as non urgent emails and highly urgent realtime video conferences.
Derek McAuley, assistant director of Microsoft Research, said: "Microsoft Research has been working with IPv6 for more than three years to ensure that, as the v6 standards, technology and services mature, Microsoft is ready to respond to the customers needs for IPv6 platforms."
BT and Microsoft are both founding members of the IPv6 Forum, a worldwide consortium aimed at promoting the new protocol. The Forum had 60 members at the end of last year.
Yesterday, business information group Informa announced it had been chosen by the IPv6 Forum to promote IPv6. The company will organise conferences in 2000 and 2001 to promote the new protocol.
Microsoft's experimental IPv6 software is available free fromhttp://www.research.microsoft.com/msripv6/
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