No room in the inn-ternet

The internet is expected to run out of address space within the next 24 hours – as the last block of IP addresses are about to be handed out.

Each device that connects to the internet is given an IP address to identify it, similar to a phone number, but the protocol IPv4 was only designed to cope with 4.3 billion of these.

Photo: Vivek Patankar

With more devices including phones able to connect to the internet the need to move over to an improved version, IPv6, is more important than ever. With a capacity for 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456 IP addresses (and if you’d like to know how to say it, click here), there would be 50 octillion addresses available for each of the 6.5 billion people on earth.

The final addresses being handed out won’t cause the internet to come to a standstill – it’s expected to take until the end of the year for these to be all used by devices, but service providers can’t ask for any more.

However the system isn’t fully in place yet. It’s up to internet and server providers to upgrade their technology to cope with new system IPv6, but it isn’t directly compatible with the current system and so it may require running both at the same time.

The biggest test of the new system will take place on June 8th, as Google, Facebook, and other major websites will ‘test drive’ the system with “IPv6 Day.”

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