Internet organisations have been warning for nearly a decade that current IP addresses will soon run out. In February 2011 the last IPv4 block was allocated and it is anticipated that it will run out by 2012.
Internet organisations have been warning for nearly a decade that Internet Protocol (IP) addresses are running out. Current IP (IPv4) addresses consist of four numbers ranging between 0 and 255, each separated by a dot. Although this gives some 4.3 billion potential addresses, the way that these numbers have been assigned over the years means they are running out. The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) assigned its last IPv4 block in February of this year and the regional body, AfriNIC anticipates that it will run out by 2012.
Fortunately, the likelihood of the Internet coming to a grinding halt is minimal, thanks to a dedicated group of people that have been hard at work developing the next generation of number ranges, IPv6. An IPv6 address consists of 128 bits, therefore allowing an astronomical number of machines, equivalent to the value of two raised to the power of 128.
According to the Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA), today is World IPv6 Day, an event designed to evaluate how well the IPV6 operates in real time and its real world effects, having previously had the opportunity to iron out any kinks in a synthetic environment.
‚Today is the day when a very public global test is performed of what is a very technical system. Success with IPv6 will save the world from a very real and looming shortage of critical address space,‚ says ISPA’s Rob Hunter.
‚Of course, many Global Tier One providers have been implementing IPv6 on their networks for years and many now run a global IPv6-enabled network. ISPA too has ensured it has IPv6-enabled peering points in the Johannesburg and Cape Town exchanges (JINX and CINX).‚
Hunter suggests that ISPA members have been gearing up for today for quite some time. He says that today will be the first real test of how well the new system will operate in future, and ISPA is confident that it will go well. Furthermore, he points out that ISPA encourages providers ‚ both those with and those without their own networks ‚ who have not yet gone the IPv6 route to start gearing up for this as soon as possible.
‚World IPv6 Day has the support on a global scale of Internet service providers, hardware makers, operating system vendors and Web companies, including some of the largest social networks and service providers in the world. Today is the critical test of everybody’s ability to continue effectively utilising the Internet well into the future.‚
‚The long and the short of it is that if you have trouble reaching Google or Facebook today, you will need to have a long, hard talk with your Internet service provider in the very near future,‚ concludes Hunter