Are We Running Out of Room on the Internet?

A current news report caught my vision, piqued my interest and captivated a spark to find out more about running out of room on the internet. In an interview with the co-founder of Casaba Protection (a team of security pioneers who research, develop and apply solutions to internet security problems), Mike Bucholtz told viewers that reviews about how we are getting very near to running out of addresses for all the mobile phones we are now using is true. Among cell phones, Blackberries, iPads, iPods, laptops and the myriad of other devices we would like to connect with the internet, there are only about 2% of the potential addresses under the present internet protocol still available.

Web addresses are needed for all these devices to with one another and are based on a 32bit value which limits the total variety of devices that can “talk” or be connected to the internet to 4 billion.

The internet protocol currently in use may be the Internet Protocol version 4, or even IPv4 and plans are underway to migrate to a new process, Internet Protocol version 6.

Based on Wikipedia, this first publicly utilized version (IPv4), provided the just before mentioned addressing capability of about 4 billion addresses and was considered to be sufficient in the early design levels of the Internet. It has been the unexpected explosive growth and worldwide proliferation of networks that has led to the present situation. By the late 1980’s, this became apparent that methods needed to be developed to conserve address space. Within the early 1990s, even after a renovate of the addressing system, it grew to become clear that this would not suffice to prevent IPv4 address exhaustion, and that more changes to the Internet infrastructure were needed.

Now plans are being created and a great deal of infrastructure is already in place to move to a new internet protocol that expands the number of addresses by 4 times. This is Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) and will greatly increase the number of devices supported. It is estimated that every person on earth could have multiple devices and not come close to using all offered addresses.

The last blocks of free IPv4 addresses were assigned in February 2011, although many free addresses nevertheless remain in most assigned blocks and will continue to be allocated for some time. While IPv6 has been implemented on all main operating systems in use in commercial, business, and home consumer environments, IPv6 is not backwards compatible with IPv4.
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For instance, when a new version of a pc program comes out, it will be able to make use of files developed in the older version. This is not possible with IPv4 plus Ipv6. Ipv6 creates what amounts to a parallel, independent network. Exchanging traffic between the two networks demands special translator gateways. However , contemporary computer operating systems are capable of implementing dual-protocol software for transparent access to each networks

What needs to happen now as we run out of room on the web is that the content about the new internet protocol needs to be communicated. To assist in that, the Internet Society is assisting World IPv6 Day, an event arranged by the Internet Society and several huge content providers to test public IPv6 roll out. The main motivation for the event is to evaluate the real world effects of the IPv6. The event is also known as Test Drive Day and will be held on 06 8, 2011.

Facebook, Google, Cisco, Verizon, Yahoo and Bing is going to be among some of the major organizations which will offer their content over IPv6 for a 24-hour “test drive”. The goal of the Test Drive Day is to encourage organizations across the industry – Web service providers, hardware makers, operating system suppliers and web companies – to get ready their services for IPv6 to make sure a successful transition as IPv4 details run out.

Changing over to IPv6 could be expensive and complicated. A similar scenario recently occurred with the transition to digital television. For years digital TV was available along with analog even though with limited content. As interest and content grew, TV channels began simulcasting both analog and digital programming. People began buying digital TVs. The move to most digital required new TVs, converters, adapters, etc ., and while it was costly, the move has been made. This IPv6 Test Day will offer similar simultaneous broadcasting in both protocols.

It looks like we can expect a move to the new protocols in the near future as we go out of room on the internet. A crisis will not appear imminent, but there are not sufficient internet addresses to support the expanding mobile communications we are today demanding.