Internet addresses are running out

Published:  December 7, 2010
Internet addresses are running out

Experts have warned that the reserve of Internet addresses is poised to run out in January. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has advised that the currently used Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) only holds four billion addresses and, believe it or not, there aren’t many left.

Ernesto Majo, communications director for the Registry of Internet addresses for Latin America and the Caribbean, has told the AFP that there are only five blocks of Internet addresses left this week, but then goes on to advise that the situation is “not serious.”

How can this situation not be serious we hear you ask? Turns out that although we’re running out of IPv4 protocol, ICANN is about to distribute IPv6 protocol. You see, when the internet was just picking up steam, experts held the view that IPv4′s four billion addresses would be more than enough for decades. But they didn’t take into account that smart phones, televisions, tablet computers and a slew of other devices would be jumping onto the Internet bandwagon. This meant that we ran out of websites much quicker than anyone had anticipated.

Alas, IPv6 offers 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456 addresses. Yeah we can’t read that number either. In other words, once completely upgraded we should not be running out of addresses any time soon.

Only problem is, unlike upgrading a city’s phone numbers by adding a number to the front, IPv6 requires a whole new upgrade. In fact, consumers will need to not only upgrade their software but also their networking equipment. In some cases down the track, consumers may also need to buy completely new hardware. It’s expected that for this very reason IPv4 addresses will become extremely expensive and find their way to the lucrative black market. Only time will tell.

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