With the clock ticking down on the final IPv4 addresses being used up, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association is helping cable operators gear up for the transition to IPv6 with its IPv6 Summit at June's Cable Show.

Cable operators, device manufacturers and other users of IP addresses have known for a long time that the IPv4 addresses were going to run out, and with the last blocks recently issued to service providers, they could be gone by the end of the year.

While IPv4 addresses are about to run out, IPv6 consists of 128 bits, compared with 32 bits in IPv4, resulting in approximately 340 undecillion IPv6 addresses versus the 4.2 billion available through IPv4.

Over the past several years, all of the various stakeholders have been prepping for the transition to IPv6. The NCTA's IPv6 Summit will bring together cable operator and programmer executives, senior managers, technologists and other experts to learn more about the transition and collaborate on solutions and strategies.

"There are many moving pieces in the IPv6 transition, and inter-industry cooperation is essential for a seamless transition and smooth sailing from the consumer's point of view," said John Brzozowski, chief architect for IPv6 and distinguished engineer at Comcast and a co-chair of the industry committee planning the Summit.

The IPv6 Summit will feature several panels that will focus on the various elements of the transition, as well as opportunities to compare notes, both formally and informally, on transition challenges and solutions. Show organizers also expect that other interested parties from beyond the cable industry will attend and participate, giving way to inter-industry consultation on the transition.

The Cable Show 2011 is slated for June 14-16 at the McCormick Place convention center in Chicago. The IPv6 Summit is included with a full conference registration, but a separate sign-up is required.

"The Cable Show in June is the perfect time to bring together many of the stakeholders in the transition," said Lee Howard, director of network technology at Time Warner Cable and the other co-chair. "We strongly encourage any executive who has a key role in the Internet ecosystem – in cable, consumer electronics or content – to take advantage of this opportunity and to come to Chicago to consult with colleagues on successful completion of this critical transition."

Thanks to its status as the largest ISP in the nation, Comcast has an equally large number of IP-connected devices, which means it's been at the forefront of preparing for the IPv6 transition.

At the start of the year, Comcast laid claim to an IPv6 milestone by being the first service provider in North America to activate native dual-stack users in a production DOCSIS network.

The week before the Cable Show, Comcast and Time Warner Cable will take part in World IPv6 Day.

CableLabs and the SCTE have also been active in supporting the transition to the IPv6 addresses.