Are usually We Running Out of Room on the Internet?

A recent news report caught my attention, piqued my interest and captivated a spark to find out more about operating out of room on the internet. In an job interview with the co-founder of Casaba Safety (a team of security pioneers who research, develop and put into action solutions to internet security problems), Sam Bucholtz told viewers that reports about how we are getting very close to running out of addresses for all the mobile devices we are now using is true. Between cell phones, Blackberries, iPads, iPods, laptop computers and the myriad of other devices we want to connect with the internet, there are only about 2% of the potential addresses under the current internet protocol still available.

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

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

According to Wikipedia, this first publicly utilized version (IPv4), provided the just before mentioned addressing capability of about four billion addresses and was thought to be sufficient in the early design stages 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, it became apparent that methods had to be developed to conserve address space. Within the early 1990s, even after a redesign of the addressing system, it became clear that this would not suffice to avoid IPv4 address exhaustion, and that further changes to the Internet infrastructure were needed.

Now plans are being developed and a great deal of infrastructure is already in position to move to a new internet process that expands the number of addresses simply by 4 times. This is Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) and will greatly broaden the number of devices supported. It is estimated that every person on earth could have multiple devices and never come close to using all accessible 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.
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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. For instance, when a new version of a computer program comes out, it will be able to make use of files developed in the older edition. This is not possible with IPv4 and Ipv6. Ipv6 creates what portions to a parallel, independent network. Swapping traffic between the two networks requires 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 today as we run out of room on the web is that the content about the new internet protocol needs to be communicated. To help that, the Internet Society is assisting World IPv6 Day, an event structured by the Internet Society and several big content providers to test public IPv6 roll out. The main motivation for the occasion is to evaluate the real world effects of the particular IPv6. The event is also known as Try out Day and will be held on June 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 aim of the Test Drive Day is to encourage organizations across the industry – Internet service providers, hardware makers, operating system vendors and web companies – to get ready their services for IPv6 to ensure a successful transition as IPv4 tackles 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 plus digital programming. People began purchasing digital TVs. The move to all of digital required new TVs, converters, adapters, etc ., and while it was expensive, the move has been made. This IPv6 Test Day will offer similar simultaneous broadcasting in both protocols.

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