The Internet Has Run Out of Real Estate, Sort Of

February 04, 2011

Remember when Chicago residents had to get used to dialing 773 because the city ran out of 312 numbers?

Something like that is happening on the Internet.

Four international non-profit groups held a news conference this week to announce that the last of the first generation of Internet addresses has been issued.

It’s being called a milestone for the World Wide Web.

The four groups — Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), Number Resources Organization (NRO), the Internet Architecture Board (IAB) and the Internet Society — said that the final IPv4 (Internet Protocol version 4) Internet addresses have been allocated, and now the future of the Internet lies with IPv6, the next generation of Internet protocol.

“This is a major turning point in the on-going development of the Internet,” said Rod Beckstrom, ICANN’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “No one was caught off guard by this. The Internet technical community has been planning for IPv4 depletion for some time. But it means the adoption of IPv6 is now of paramount importance, since it will allow the Internet to continue its amazing growth and foster the global innovation we’ve all come to expect.”

IPv4 provided about 4.3 billion Internet addresses; the Internet groups said IPv6 is a “billion-trillion” times larger, which means we shouldn’t run out again for a very long time.

There are about 33 million IPv4 addresses still available, but they are being held for service providers including universities, governments and telecommunications companies.

The transition from IPv4 to IPv6 will take several years, and you will probably need to adjust your computer for it. Eventually IPv4 will go away completely.

To find out more information about IPv6, visit atlarge.icann.org.

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