We Could Run out of Internet Addresses in a Year

In less than a year, the world could run out of Internet addresses unless we change the system. The old system simply did not account for the number of IP addresses that phones would use.

The Sydney Morning Herald in Australia reports:

"The protocol underpinning the net, known as IPv4, provides only about 4 billion IP addresses -- not website domain names, but the unique sequence of numbers assigned to each computer, website or other internet-connected device.

"The explosion in the number of people, devices and web services on the internet means there are only about 232 million left. This allocation is set to be exhausted in about 340 days."

Of course there is a solution, something called IPv6, but it would be costly, and some compare it to changing your car tires while driving. India recently issued a mandate for all government and "public sector companies" to move to IPv6 by 2012.

PC Magazine says:

"The United States hasn't put quite as much initiative behind switching to IPv6, reports Richard MacManus of ReadWriteWeb. And the country is nearing the end of its available IPv4 block as well. According to John Curran, of the American Registry for Internet Numbers, the United States has used up roughly 94 percent of its available addresses, and the remaining six percent should be tapped within the next year. "

The Internet probably won't come crashing down because of all of this. Some critics compare it to the Y2K scare, something that will be fixed when it has to be. We have faced similar situations with the depletion of phone numbers, which was solved by adding new area codes and allowing numbers to be portable.

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    Al Tompkins

    Al Tompkins is The Poynter Institute’s senior faculty for broadcasting and online. He has taught thousands of journalists, journalism students and educators in newsrooms around the world.


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