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We’re Running Out Of Internets: All IP Addresses Could Be Used Up In A Year

Everyone who’s anyone on the Internet has an IP address. Literally, every web-connecting device has a unique IP address in its interactions with the big ol’ World Wide Web. And if you’re reading a blog called Geekosystem, there’s a decent chance you already knew that. But what fewer of you may know is that we’re running out of these IP addresses, and quickly. Experts currently project that we will run out during or shortly before summer of next year.

The current IP protocol, IPv4, provides for about 4 billion IP addresses, which probably seemed like a lot at the time, but now with phones, computers, televisions, cars, and every other piece of technology people own connecting to the net, it’s proving to be a very small number. Right now, there are an estimated 232 million left. The Sydney Morning Herald reports this should last approximately 340 days.

Others think it will end earlier, and there’s even an Internet doomsday clock, updated daily, which chronicles the descent into a full, unwieldy Internet.

The solution: IPv6. (Apparently IPv5 was LAME!) IPv6 would provide trillions and trillions of IP addresses, which, at least right now, seems reasonable. So why is everyone panicked if we have a simple way out? Well, because it’s actually not that simple. Making the switch to IPv6 requires a fair amount of work and/or money:

Geoff Huston, chief scientist at APNIC … said one of the biggest impediments to solving the problem was the sheer scale – all devices on IPv4 will need to be upgraded to support IPv6, as the two versions aren’t backwards compatible. Consumers will need to upgrade the software on their computers and networking equipment and, in some cases, buy completely new hardware.”

Eventually, though, it must be done, or some ISPs will force multiple devices to share IP addresses, making a lot of applications, including some e-mail apps and iTunes, not work. Obviously this would be somewhat of a problem.

Well, between the doomsday clock and the Herald article, it seems we have between 242 and 340 days to fix the Internet. Ready? Go!

(Via SMH via The Daily What, image via Princeton)

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