The Internet will soon run out of IP addresses that can be assigned to new devices connecting to the Web, but a fix currently in the works.
According to an article by Sarah Kessler, Internet service provider Hurricane Electric estimates that at the present rate of IP address assignments, the availability of IP addresses under the current IPv4 protocol will be exhausted in the first week of February.
PC World‘s Chris Head notes that some classes of IPv4 addresses can be reused, but even that will not prevent the current system from exhausting the approximately four billion available IP addresses soon.
"Class C addresses are reusable, since they exist only within a private network. The Google.com IP address, on the other hand, is "Class A" since it begins with "66.". Class A addresses are generally not reusable, eventually leading to complete depletion of the available address space as more IP addresses are requested and used," Head wrote.
IPv6, a new IP address system, is on its way which will coexist for a period with the current IPv4 addresses, which will keep new devices steadily connecting to the web.
The IPv6 uses a longer IP address that incorporates letter as well as digits, and should ensure enough addresses to satisfy demand for years to come.
Unfortunately, the transition to IPv6 is not problem free. The push to upgrade to the IPv6 protocol by the end of the year could leave millions of users without the ability to connect to the Internet, experts warn.
"IPv6 experts say some Internet users will experience slowdowns or have trouble connecting to IPv6-enabled websites because they have misconfigured or misbehaving network equipment, primarily in their home networks. Corporate users also could experience IPv6 brokenness because of faulty firewall settings," according to an article on InfoWorld.
"A certain number of users do have IPv6 on their systems, but they have it configured in such a way that their system believes they have a working IPv6 Internet connection when in reality they don't. Or their website browser will prefer IPv6. This will result in timeouts that can be anywhere from 5 seconds to several minutes. From an end user's point of view, the first major website that goes dual-stack is going to appear broken while other websites will appear to be up," said Yahoo's Jason Fesler.
The Internet Society has scheduled an "IPv6 Day" on June 8th of this year to gauge the level of "brokenness". Yahoo, Google and Facebook are among the companies who have agreed to participate.
InfoWorld has provided the following resource to find out if your networks are ready for the transition to IPv6: Are your networks ready for the cutover to IPv6?