Internet to run out of available IP addresses tomorrow

3 Feb 2011

Tomorrow the internet will exceed the number of IP addresses available, speeding up the need for internet protocol version 6 or IPv6 to replace version 4.

The original system was established in the 1980s, and the service was created with the maximum of 4.1bn addresses, with the intention of never running out.

The internet requires every device connected to it to be assigned a number. The introduction of the internet to mobile phones has seen the increase in the need for IP addresses which act as phone numbers. This enables users to surf the internet and check their emails.

According to John Curran, president and CEO of ARIN, only about 2pc of websites support the new internet protocol version 6. This mainly includes the most-visited sites on the internet, such as Google and Facebook. Smaller sites that are not supported by the new version are expected to race for IPv6 addresses.

Mícheál Ó Foghlú, chair of the Irish IPv6 Taskforce and executive director of research at TSSG stated that, “The trend is towards even more internet-enabled devices, such as TVs, game consoles and media players. Also a growing number of users in developing countries increase the demand for IP addresses.”

IPv6 in Ireland

Ireland has already begun preparations for the migration to IPv6, since The IPv6 Summit, in Dublin in May that 130 delegates attended.

“Migrating to IPv6 will position Ireland as innovative and responsive to business needs and will enable the growth of our ‘smart economy’. It is a basic infrastructural requirement and is as relevant as roads or airports to attracting foreign investment.

Ó Foghlú commented that, “The Irish IPv6 Taskforce provides free training materials and highlights other free online resources. We would encourage industry bodies to approach the taskforce to arrange for help in raising awareness and providing training,”

“The Irish Government has shown leadership by ensuring that public-sector networks are IPv6 enabled, and by ensuring that public-sector ICT spending prioritises the purchase of equipment that can run both IPv4 and IPv6.”

Possible problems with the change

The Daily Mail reported that as IPv4 and IPv6 are different languages, there could be problems with access to some websites, or that it will affect the speed of surfing.

Curran commented, “We’re estimating how these boxes will work, but we haven’t seen one deployed with tens of thousands of customers on it yet.”

Ó Foghlú stated at the summit that, “Without IPv6, new start-up businesses wishing to offer services on the internet will find it very difficult or prohibitively expensive to secure globally routable addresses for new services, such as e-commerce websites.”

He also suggested that, “Addresses may even become a black market commodity, which could be a massive hurdle for businesses and would significantly slow internet growth.”