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NAT64 definition

NAT64 — or Network Address Translation IPv6 to IPv4 — is a technology that allows devices using the newer Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) to communicate with devices using the older Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4). With the help of NAT64, IPv6-only devices can access IPv4-only resources (like websites or servers) by translating IP addresses.

NAT64 plays an essential role in transitioning from IPv4 to IPv6 and ensuring all devices can communicate, especially as the internet adopts the newer IPv6 standard.

See also: Internet Protocol address

How NAT64 works

  1. When an IPv6 device wants to communicate with an IPv4 device or website, it sends a request.
  2. The NAT64 gateway intercepts the request from the IPv6 device before it reaches its destination.
  3. The NAT64 gateway translates the IPv6 address of the requesting device into an IPv4 address.
  4. The translated IPv4 address is used to forward the request to the IPv4 device or website.
  5. When the IPv4 device or website responds, the NAT64 gateway translates the IPv4 address back to the original IPv6 address of the device that sent the request.
  6. Finally, the translated response goes back to the IPv6 device — and the communication is complete.

Practical NAT64 applications

  • Mobile networks. Many mobile network operators use NAT64 to make it possible for IPv6 mobile devices to communicate with IPv4-only content or services. With NAT64, these operators can smoothly transition their networks to IPv6 while making sure that these mobile devices can still access IPv4 content or services without any interruptions.
  • Public Wi-Fi networks. Public Wi-Fi networks (e.g., in airports, hotels, or coffee shops) often use NAT64 to let both IPv6 and IPv4 devices access the internet. With the help of NAT64, public networks can ensure all devices can connect and access the internet without compatibility issues.

Further reading

Ultimate digital security