Internet to soon run out of IP addresses

The Internet is running out of Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, used by computers to communicate.

The Amsterdam-based Number Resource Organization (NRO), the official representative of the five Regional Internet Registries that oversee the allocation of all Internet number resources, announced on Thursday that less than 10 percent of available IPv4 addresses remain unallocated. (V4 IP addresses consist of four sets of numbers separated by colons, which serve as a unique identification for computers on networks.) It said the remaining small pool of existing IP addresses marks a critical moment in IPv4 address exhaustion, ultimately impacting the future network operations of all businesses and organizations around the globe.

The chairman of NRO Axel Pawlik said in an official release that it was vital for the Internet community to shift to a new addressing scheme using six sets of numbers (IPv6) and called for determined action to ensure global adoption of IPv6. “The limited IPv4 addresses will not allow us enough resources to achieve the ambitions we all hold for global Internet access. The deployment of IPv6 is a key infrastructure development that will enable the network to support the billions of people and devices that will connect in the coming years,” Mr. Pawlik said.

Internet Protocol is a set of technical rules that defines how devices communicate over a network. Of the two versions of IP, IPv6 includes a modern numbering system that provides a much larger address pool than IPv4. With so few IPv4 addresses remaining, NRO is urging all Internet stakeholders to take immediate action by planning for the necessary investments required to deploy IPv6, the release said.

The NRO, alongside each individual RIR, has actively promoted IPv6 deployment for several years through grassroots outreach, speaking engagements, conferences and media outreach. Given the less than 10 percent milestone, the NRO is continuing its call for Internet stakeholders, including governments, vendors, enterprises, telecoms operators, and end users, to fulfill their roles in IPv6 adoption, specifically encouraging the following actions: the business sector provide IPv6-capable services and platforms, including web hosting and equipment, ensuring accessibility for IPv6 users; software and hardware vendors implement IPv6 support in their products to guarantee they are available at production standard when needed; governments lead the way by making their own content and services available over IPv6 and encouraging IPv6 deployment efforts in their countries. IPv6 requirements in government procurement policies are critical at this time. Civil society, including organizations and end users, should request that all services they receive from their ISPs and vendors are IPv6-ready, to build demand and ensure competitive availability of IPv6 services in coming years.

The NRO’s campaign to promote the next generation of Internet Protocol continues to positively impact the Internet community. IPv6 allocations increased by nearly 30 per cent in 2009, as community members continued to recognize the benefits of IPv6. “Many decision makers don’t realise how many devices require IP addresses – mobile phones, laptops, servers, routers, the list goes on,” said Raul Echeberria, Secretary of the NRO. “The number of available IPv4 addresses is shrinking rapidly, and if the global Internet community fails to recognize this, it will face grave consequences in the very near future. As such, the NRO is working to educate everyone, from network operators to top executives and government representatives, about the importance of IPv6 adoption,” added Mr. Echeberria.

IP addresses are allocated by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), a contract operated by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). IANA distributes IP addresses to regional registries, which in turn issue them to users in their respective regions.

  1. Very interesting article. Thank you.

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