Is The Internet Running Out of Room?

Curt Hopkins of ReadWriteWeb reports that at a meeting on May 19 of this year, the Task Force Chair to the IPv6 Summit in Ireland made a startling statement:  "Despite having nearly four and a half billion addresses, predictions estimate that IPv4 will reach maximum capacity by September, 2011."  Factors driving the current demand for Internet addresses include the following:

  • Mobile phones, laptops, desktops and servers requiring individual addresses are used by developed nations.  Current trends point toward even more usage of Internet-enabled devices such as TV’s, game consoles, and media players.
  • Increasing numbers of new users in developing countries.
  • Increasing pressure to provide connectivity for such things as small grids for electricity, water, and other utility services.

A newer technology, IPv6, might be the switch-over that will provide help.  Because IPv6 uses 128-bit addresses, rather than the 32-bit addresses used by IPv4, over four billion addresses could be provided for every person on the planet!

The new protocol requires running two systems in tandem for a while, a very expensive undertaking.  Changes from firewalls to cable modems would also be necessary, adding to the overall cost.  Even though some governments and commercial outfits in Europe and Asia have begun to run the new protocol, it is far from being universally embraced.  As technology is constantly changing, perhaps there is something new and better just around the corner.

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