Full Internet Map from January 2005 (Picture by http://www.opte.org/maps/)
On February 3, the pool of Internet protocol addresses was exhausted. They are not all in use yet but they are all now booked by operators and other organisations.
The current system for IP addresses is IPv4 (IP version 4). IPv4 uses numeric addresses that are 32 bits long. That gives an address space of four billion numbers. We are about seven billion people on the Earth. The Internet penetration is still growing world wide and many of us are occupying several IP addresses, at work, at home, in the smartphone and maybe other devices.
So will Internet stop here? No, of course not!
The solution is IPv6 that uses 128 bits for each numeric IP address. That gives us a huge number of IP addresses. About 486 followed by 26 zeros per person on the Earth!
So what is the problem? It is about money. It takes an investment to upgrade a server from IPv4 to IPv6 and also make it possible to make the two systems to co-exist. Most servers and all major operating systems have adopted support for IPv6 but the Internet service providers have in general not made these investments.
There are some tricks that can be used to temporarily overcome the lack of IP numbers for a number of years ahead but the day will come when we have “Internet of things”. Meaning that almost every physical object will have its own IP address as way of identifying and connect them. Then we really need more IP addresses and IPv6!
- Internet Runs Out Of IP Addresses (informationweek.com)
- Why Your IP Address May Soon Be Antique (entrepreneur.com)