The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) announced Tuesday that it had begun adding IPv6 addresses to the DNS root server system, which maintains the master list of domain names.
The step could pave the way for broader adoption of the protocol, which provides trillions more addresses than the IPv4 standard that dominates today.
So far, the IPv6 support is limited to two country-code domains, .jp for Japan and .kr for Korea. The French country code, .fr, will be the next to add IPv6 records "shortly," ICANN said.
ICANN, in a statement, did not specify when other domains would begin providing IPv6 records to root servers, but it said other requests are pending.
IPv6 became an Internet standard through the Internet Engineering Task Forces standards-making process, and a range of network and device vendors have begun supporting it. It promises to open a nearly limitless number of IP addresses that could allow a range of new, always-connected devices.
"This is a very symbolic and important move," said David Kessens, a director for the operations and management area of the IETFs Internet Engineering Steering Group and a proponent of IPv6. "Its one more [technical] piece that needed to be in place."
ICANN is holding a series of meetings this week in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to discuss Internet governance and domain-name issues. Its board of directors meets at the end of the week and is expected to consider a controversial budget proposal that would double the groups spending, as well as recommendations from an investigation into VeriSign Inc.s SiteFinder redirection service.
Earlier this week, ICANN announced that it is moving closer to completing a set of organizational changes in order to meet requirements from the U.S. Department of Commerce. ICANN operates under a contract with the Commerce Department, and in September 2003 the two bodies agreed to a three-year plan under which ICANN and the DNS could become privately run.
ICANN said it has completed seven of the tasks in the agreement, and remains on or ahead of schedule to complete the remaining work.