May 30, 2010

Experts Say Internet Could Run Out of Addresses by 2012

RIPE NCC, the organization that issues IP addresses for devices across Europe, announced on May 28, 2010, that the Internet will run out of unique codes within the next 18 months.

IP addresses, which are codes assigned to Internet-connective devices such as computers, net books, smart phones, and PDAs, have risen in demand as more and more people are buying devices that connect to the Internet, with many people owning more than one such device.
How Big Is the Internet?

"The internet as we know it will no longer be able to grow," Daniel Karrenberg, chief scientist at RIPE NCC, speculated in an interview with CNN.

"That doesn't mean it will cease to function, but entry could be limited to new devices."

The current system in place for distributing IP addresses, the Internet Protocol Addressing Scheme version 4 (IPv4,) will release its last large batch of addresses in September of 2011. These large batches only last a few months before devices pick up all of the addresses in a batch.

When created in 1970, IPv4 was meant to create 4 billion IP addresses, but with the demand for Internet connectivity and Internet-ready devices continuing to rise, experts have found that, while 4 billion addresses are a lot, they still are not enough.

Experts and programmers have developed a new system, IPv6, that according to CNN, "has trillions more addresses available and ready to go." The problem is that businesses and those who make Internet-ready devices are slow to change over to the new system.

Only 1 in 4 European businesses have made the switch to IPv6.

"My impression is that while awareness of the issue is quite high, a lot of businesses are sitting on the fence," Karrenberg said. "Many small businesses are waiting to see what the early adopters do; how they handle things.

"My suspicion is too many are leaving it too late."
What Is An IP Address?

Any and every device that is able to connect to the Internet has an IP address, similar to how every building has a postal address. This set of numbers is what other computers and networks use to identify one computer or network from another and can also be used in troubleshooting or determining problems in a network, such as which computer obtained a virus.

According to Hyperlink to HowStuffWorks , IP addresses are commonly displayed in what is called a dotted decimal number. There are four sections in an IP address, each of them known as an octet because each section has eight unique locations when the dotted decimal number is translated into binary code.
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