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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Internet Addresses Will Run Out In A Year

The world will run out of internet IP addresses in less than a year because of the explosion in smartphones, experts have warned.


The rise of smartphones means the internet address pool will run dry soon

Inaction by internet providers could lead to broken applications and more expensive net connections.

IP addresses do not refer to website domain names, but the unique sequence of numbers used to identify each computer, website or other internet-connected device.

The protocol used by the majority of web users, known as IPv4, provides only about four billion IP addresses.

Currently there are only about 232 million IP addresses left which is enough for about 340 days only, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

"When the IPv4 protocol was developed 30 years ago, it seemed to be a reasonable attempt at providing enough addresses," John Lindsay, carrier relations manager at the Australian internet service provider (ISP) Internode told the Herald.

"Bearing in mind that at that point personal computers didn't really exist, the idea that mobile phones might want an IP address hadn't occurred to anybody because mobile phones hadn't been invented [and] the idea that airconditioners and refrigerators might want them was utterly ludicrous."

The problem can be compared to Britain running out of phone numbers due to the growth of telephone connections, which in past has been resolved by changing dialling codes and adding new digits.

Internet users in China

Internet users will need to get their devices upgraded

Experts say that a solution would be to adopt a new protocol, IPv6, which uses a 128-digit address.

It would give everyone in the world more than four billion addresses each.

But the internet industry so far has not been eager to introduce it.

To make it work, each device that connects to the internet would need to be reconfigured or upgraded. Some users may even find themselves forced to buy new hardware.

The Windows and Mac operating systems both, however, support the new protocol, as do some smartphones such as the iPhone.

But if the new protocol is not introduced in time, multiple customers may need to share IP addresses while waiting for it. As a consequence common applications, such as Gmail and iTunes, may cease to work.