Warning: The Internet is Running Out of Space

Warning: The Internet is Running Out of Space

Well, not really. But according to The Internet Address and Naming Agency (IANA), in two months, there will be no more traditional Internet addresses to be given out. 

Not to be confused with web addresses, Internet protocol addresses—also known as IP addresses—are the collections of four "dotted quads" of numbers between 0 and 255 (ex: 77.91.248.30) that are assigned to each and every machine that accesses the Net. The current system, called IPv4—Internet Protocol Version 4—which has been in use for over 40 years is able to support up to 4.3 billion IP addresses. Suffice to say, with the influx of web-enabled mobile devices and the rise in personal computer ownership, the world has basically run out of addresses.

James Blessing, a member of UK's Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA), painted a more literal picture when he told the Guardian UK: "You might find that you can't get online unless someone else goes offline." He continued: "It would be like the Internet before broadband, when everything was on dial-up modems, and if too many people were dialing in then you couldn't get connected." Scary stuff.

So, what the hell are we going to do? Well, we can't do anything. Internet Service Providers and router and modem manufactures will need to upgrade to IPv4's successor, IPv6. Unlike its predecessor, IPv6 can handle around 340 trillion devices on the Internet at the same time. However, a large majority our Internet-enabled devices—routers, modems, smartphones—are currently unable to read IPv6.

The last IPv4 addresses will be given out within the next few months, and after that only IPv6 addresses will be assigned. Currently only 1% of Internet traffic is passing through IPv6 addresses (companies like Facebook have already begun experimenting with the new addresses), so hopefully by the time it becomes widespread and more mainstream there will be a fix available.

[Guardian]

Tags: internet
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