All data is delayed
See More

Addresses depleted as more use internet

Feb 04 2011 11:27

San Francisco - Thirty years after the first internet addresses were created, the supply of addresses officially ran dry on Thursday.

But don't panic. The transition to a new version of addresses is already well under way and, for most people, should occur without even being noticed.

At a special ceremony in Miami on Thursday, the organisation that oversees the global allocation of internet addresses distributed the last batch of so-called IPv4 addresses, underscoring the extent to which the Web has become an integral and pervasive part of modern life.

Every computer, smartphone and back-end Web server requires an IP address - a unique string of numbers identifying a particular device - to be connected to the internet.

The explosion of Web-connected gadgets, and the popularity of websites from Google to Facebook, means that the world has now bumped up against the limit of about 4 billion IP addresses that are possible with the IPv4 standard introduced in 1981.

The solution is IPv6, a new standard for internet addresses that should provide a lot more room for growth: there are 340 undecillion IPv6 addresses available. That's 340 trillion, trillion, trillion addresses.

"If all the space of IPv4 were to be sized and compared to a golf ball, a similar-sized comparison for IPv6 would be the size of the sun," said John Curran, CEO of the American Registry for Internet Numbers, one of five nonprofit organisations that manage internet addresses for particular regions of the world.

Just in case you're worried, Curran added that "we don't ever intend to see another transition".

For companies with websites, the transition to IPv6 means configuring their computer equipment to support the new standard rather than upgrading hardware, Curran said.

Those that don't could see the performance of their sites slowed down, and potentially cut off to some users in the future.

Laptops, smartphones and other Web-connected gadgets, as well as web browsers, already support IPv6, though Curran notes that according to some estimates less than 1% of internet users may not have their equipment configured properly and will need to adjust settings in the months ahead, as websites increasingly adopt the new standard.

google  |  facebook  |  miami  |  internet


Read Fin24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Company Snapshot

We're talking about:


Marketing is a big concern in SA's small business community, followed by a lack of confidence and partnering with the wrong people, according to a survey.

Money Clinic

Money Clinic
Do you have a question about your finances? We'll get an expert opinion.
Click here...

Voting Booth

The 25 basis points interest rate increase is:

Previous results · Suggest a vote