Running out of IPv4 addresses in less than one year

Believe it or not, public IPv4 address space will be exhausted in less than a year, says John Curran, President and CEO of the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN). Only 4 billion internet addresses are possible under the current system and all but 6% have already been allocated.

This has happened due to the exponential increase in mobile devices connecting to the Internet and the annual growth in user-generated content on the Web. In the next few years there will be a huge increase of devises that will be connected to the internet, such as smart grids, RFID and other nifty gadgets that connect to the internet.

Currently the Web largely uses IPv4, Internet Protocol version 4. Each IPv4 address is limited to a 32-bit number, which means there are a maximum of just over 4 billion possible unique addresses.

So how about IPv6 ?

IPv6 is the next generation Internet Protocol and uses a 128-bit address, so it supports a vastly larger number of unique addresses. Enough, in fact, to give every person on the planet over 4 billion addresses each. Researchers have been working on IPv6 for more than a decade, but adoption has been slow and most content providers probably don’t even know what IPv6 is.

Google and other big content providers are an obvious exception. Google has already put the majority of its services onto IPv6. Declaring its support for IPv6 on a special webpage, Google states that “IPv6 is essential to the continued health and openness of the Internet [and] will enable innovation and allow the Internet’s continued growth.”

Hopefully in time to come most of the big content providers and ISPs will take the initiative and invest heavily on IPv6 migration.

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