An IPv6 link-local address enables a device to communicate with other IPv6-enabled devices on the same link and only on that link (subnet). Packets with a source or destination link-local address cannot be routed beyond the link from where the packet originated.

Unlike IPv4 link-local addresses, IPv6 link-local addresses have a significant role in various aspects of the network. The global unicast address is not a requirement; however, every IPv6-enabled network interface is required to have a link-local address.

If a link-local address is not configured manually on an interface, the device will automatically create its own without communicating with a DHCP server. IPv6-enabled hosts create an IPv6 link-local address even if the device has not been assigned a global unicast IPv6 address. This allows IPv6-enabled devices to communicate with other IPv6-enabled devices on the same subnet. This includes communication with the default gateway (router).

IPv6 link-local addresses are in the FE80::/10 range. The /10 indicates that the first 10 bits are 1111 1110 10xx xxxx. The first hextet has a range of 1111 1110 1000 0000 (FE80) to 1111 1110 1011 1111 (FEBF).

Figure 1 shows an example of communication using IPv6 link-local addresses.

Figure 2 shows the format of an IPv6 link-local address.

IPv6 link-local addresses are also used by IPv6 routing protocols to exchange messages and as the next-hop address in the IPv6 routing table. Link-local addresses are discussed in more detail in a later course.

Note: Typically, it is the link-local address of the router and not the global unicast address that is used as the default gateway for other devices on the link.