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Web Could Run Out Of Addresses

November 3, 2009

The Web could soon run out of available addresses if companies fail to make the transition from IPv4 to IPv6, according to a survey from the European Commission.

The current IPv4 system uses 32-bit addresses, which allows for the support of about 44.3 billion addresses, while the next generation of the Internet, IPv6, uses 128-bit addresses, which could allow for billions of new Web addresses.

The EC surveyed 610 government, educational and other industries throughout Europe, the Middle East and Asia. The survey shows that only 17 percent of those surveyed had transitioned to IPv6.

“In the last 10 years, the internet has become hugely important worldwide from a socio-economic perspective,” said Detlef Eckert, a director in the Commission’s information society and media directorate-general.

“Only by ensuring that all devices connected to the Internet are compatible with IPv6 can we stay connected and safeguard sustainable growth of the Internet and the global digital economy, now and in the years to come.”

“We’ll be down to our last tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of web addresses by the end of next year,” Sam Pickles, enterprise engineer of F5 Networks, told the Telegraph.

“New companies looking to establish a presence on the Internet will have no option but to adopt the IPv6 address format. Many government and military organizations worldwide have adopted IPv6 for their internal systems already, and its adoption by companies, and eventually home users, is virtually certain.”

“Consumers will eventually also need to replace equipment in the home, although this is likely to be introduced by ISPs in gradual stages,” he said. “The most likely device needing replacement initially will be the home broadband router, connected to the phone line.”

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