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The Internet protocol (IP) provides the addressing mechanism that defines how and where information such as text, voice, and video moves across interconnected networks. Internet protocol version 4 (IPv4), which is widely used today, may not be able to accommodate the increasing number of global users and devices that are connecting to the Internet. As a result, IP version 6 (IPv6) was developed to increase the amount of available IP address space. The new protocol is gaining increased attention from regions with limited IP addresses. For its testimony, GAO was asked to discuss the findings and recommendations of its recent study of IPv6 (GAO-05-471). In this study, GAO was asked to (1) describe the key characteristics of IPv6; (2) identify the key planning considerations for federal agencies in transitioning to IPv6; and (3) determine the progress made by the Department of Defense (DOD) and other major agencies in the transition to IPv6.

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