dnaTechLaunch, Internet, IPv4, IPv6, American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN), Internet Service Provider (ISP),

IP addresses are unique number codes given to every device that connects to the internet, be it a laptop or smartphone, website, or even servers. And just last week, the American Registry for InternetNumbers (ARIN) said that we’re running out of them.

IP addresses are registered and deployed by ARIN, which says that only about 130,000 IPv4 addresses are currently available. That’s not a whole lot, considering that Internet Service Providers (ISP) tend to buy up IPs in batches of millions. So what do we do when the Internet runs dry?

Thankfully, ARIN has long since prepared a solution. In the early days of the internet, IP addresses followed the IPv4 format, a 32-bit four digit numbering system which has about 4.3 billion combinations. The organisation developed and deployed the 128-bit IPv6system way back in 1999, but the world just stuck with the old format. While that means we’re in no danger of the internet stagnating, unprepared organisations could be in for a rude shock.

Once the current stock runs out and people start switching to IPv6, the two number systems will run in tandem; IPv4 will not be redundant. But companies that haven’t purchased domains on the new format yet will be forced to change their networks, or even pay top dollar for new IP addresses from other companies’ excesses. Without IP addresses under their belt, smartphone makers will have to go back to making feature phones that don’t connect to the web, ISPs will have to turn down new customers, and web hosting companies won’t be able to launch that new website you’ve been developing.

But it’s not all doomsday prophesying. The simple fact that we’ve run out of the current stock of IPs clearly points out just how successful the internet is and the vast potential for growth that no one ever expected in the early days of the world wide web.


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