BEIJING, Dec. 27 (UPI) -- China says it will start testing a new Internet protocol in 2013 to strengthen and improve the country's Internet and increase the availability of domain names.
China will put the Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) into small-scale commercial pilot use by the end of 2013 and deploy the IPv6-based network on a large scale between 2014 and 2015, China's state-run news agency Xinhua reported Sunday.
The pool of Internet addresses available in IPv4, the current protocol, has come close to being used up this year, experts said.
IPv6 will offer more IP addresses so more devices will be able to connect directly to the Internet.
By 2010, China had about 278 million IPv4 addresses, the China Internet Network Information Center said.
There are 450 million Internet users in China.
"The development of IPv6 is one of the most important tasks for China's Internet industry during the 12th Five-Year Plan period, from 2011 to 2015," Hu Qiheng, director-general of the Internet Society of China, said.
Although IPv6 has not been put into commercial use yet, Chinese universities have already connected to the new protocol, Xinhua reported.