We are rapidly approaching the end of the fourth version of the internet protocol – IPv4 internet addresses are extremely scarce.

Background

All devices connecting to the Internet make use of the Internet Protocol – this is how they can communicate with each other. In order to be present on the web, each of those device require an IP address.

Herein lies the problem – because of the fast growing number of devices connected to the Internet and the fast growing number of users, we will soon be out of addresses.

IPv4 allowed 4,294,967,296 possible unique addresses (approximately 4.3 billion addresses) – which was more than enough back in September 1981. This is not the case anymore, and as of February 3, 2011, the primary supply of unallocated IPv4 addresses was exhausted.

Seems like a deja vu of Y2K doesn’t it? As long as service providers have a plan to address (or have already addressed this issue) – there shouldn’t be much disruption.

Enter IPv6

IPv6 will replace IPv4 and will allow for about 3.4×1038 (340,282,366,920,938,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) unique addresses.

That should last us for a little while you think ?

[Source: INTEC Systems Institute, Inc. | video via Cisco]