The Internet is running out of addresses!
When devices are connected to our global network, each one is assigned a unique identifier. That 32-bit number is an IP (Internet protocol) address, and there are only about four billion possible numbers that can be stored in 32 bits.
Now, we find that there are only about six percent of those numbers left, according to a new piece in ReadWriteWeb. John Curran, an official from the non-profit that manages distributing IP addresses in North America, expects that those approximately 240 million addresses will be gone by the end of the year.
There is a solution: Internet service providers can switch to a revised Internet Protocol (IPv6) that uses a greater number of bits per address, thereby increasing the number of unique addresses by orders of magnitude. Experts, though, are sounding some alarm bells because that solution has to get deployed to work, and deployment of IPv6 has been slow.
What hasn't been slow is the number of devices being connected to the Internet, a fact which is blamed for exacerbating the address problem. "There's an explosion of data about to happen to the Web - thanks largely to sensor data, smart grids, RFID and other Internet of Things data," wrote ReadWriteWeb's Richard MacManus. "Other reasons include the increase in mobile devices connecting to the Internet and the annual growth in user-generated content on the Web."