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World Running Out Of Web Addresses

internet_addressAn article out of the Telegraph today say that the Internet could run out of web addresses by the end of 2010.  A report released by the European Commission, found that only a small percentage of companies are prepared for the switch from Internet Protocol, IPv4 to IPv6.  Many experts have suggested that the world could run out of Internet addresses within the next year or two, however that could be avoided if more companies switch to the new platform.

Only 17% of 610 institutions surveyed throughout Europe, Asia & the Middle East have upgraded from the IPv4 protocol to IPv6. If the remaining 83% do not upgrade, the world wide web may be left in the dark as the Internet can only support somewhere between 4 and 4.5 billion unique IP addresses.  An IP address is the unique string of numbers associated with every website in existence.

The Telegraph explains, “the IPv4 and IPv6 protocols refer to the way in which web addresses are created and assigned. Each website has a unique IP address, represented by a string of numbers, such as 192.168.1.1, which are then given a user-friendly web address, such as telegraph.co.uk, to make them easier to remember.”

Currently, the IPv4 uses 32-bit addresses, which lets the web support roughly 4.3 billion unique addresses. With that said, the IPv6 uses 96 more bits at 128-bit addresses, which experts say will create billions of new web addresses.  In fact, web experts estimate that the new system could created a unique address for every single blade of grass on the Earth.

Detlef Eckert, director in the Commission’s information society and media directorate-general said, “in the last 10 years, the Internet has become hugely important worldwide from a socio-economic perspective.  Only by ensuring that all devices connected to the Internet are compatible with IPv6 can we stay connected and safeguard sustainable growth of the Internet and the global digital economy, now and in the years to come.”

Sam Pickles, lead enterprise engineer of F5 Networks, has warned that the world will be down to the last several hundreds of thousands of web addresses by the end of 2010.

“New companies looking to establish a presence on the Internet will have no option but to adopt the IPv6 address format,” said Pickles. “Many government and military organizations worldwide have adopted IPv6 for their internal systems already, and its adoption by companies, and eventually home users, is virtually certain.”

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