'Grave consequences' if web community doesn't switch to new address protocol
Published 19/01/2010 | 10:07
The internet is running out of web addresses, with less than 10 per cent of current-generation IPv4 web addresses still available, warns the Number Resource Organisation.
That could lead to a shortage of available web addresses, warns the Number Resource Organisation, the group tasked with allocating the remaining IPv4 addresses. It is urging business and organisations to migrate to the next generation naming protocol, IPv6, in order to limit the impact of the address shortage on "future network operations".
The IPv4 and IPv6 protocols refer to the way in which web addresses are created and assigned. Each website has a unique IP address, represented by a string of numbers, which are then given a user-friendly web address, such as telegraph.co.uk, to make them easier to remember.
“This is a key milestone in the growth and development of the global internet,” said Axel Pawlik, chairman of the Number Resource Organisation. “With less than 10 per cent of the entire IPv4 address range still available, it is vital that the internet community take considered and determined action to ensure the 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."
A recent survey by the European Commission found that of the 610 government, educational and other industry organisations questioned across Europe, the Middle East and Asia, just 17 per cent had upgraded to IPv6. The Commission warned that the timely deployment of the protocol is vital to the growth and stability of the internet.
“Many decision-makers don’t realise how many devices require IP addresses," said Raul Echeberria, secretary of the Number Resource Organisation. "Mobile phones, laptops, servers, routers, all need unique addresses. The number of available IPv4 addresses is shrinking rapidly, and if the global internet community fails to recognise this, it will face grave consequences in the very near future."
Web experts say the process of switching from IPv4 to IPv6 is relatively straightforward, but will require significant investment from companies and internet service providers to ensure that old software and hardware is compatible with the new protocol. It may also involve installing some new equipment at the edge of corporate networks that handle routers and firewalls, while internet service providers will likely need to send domestic customers a new router to plug in to their phone line.