Uh Oh – The Internet Is About To Run Out Of IP Addresses!

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Yes, you read the headline correctly.  The Internet is about to run out of IP addresses.  The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority has scheduled a press conference in Miami on Thursday to announce that they are distributing the last blocks of new Internet addresses.  It is expected that all of those IP addresses will be fully distributed within 6 to 9 months and then there will be no more.  The current IP address system, known as “IPv4”, can only support a little over 4 billion IP addresses and we have now almost reached that limit.  The good news is that a replacement for the current system already exists, but the bad news is the the vast majority of Internet devices around the globe do not speak the “language” of the new system.  This has the potential to create an Internet “headache” of mammoth proportions in the coming years.


Most of the time humanity will not start addressing a problem until it is staring us right in the face.  Well, this problem has arrived.  By making this announcement now, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) is hopefully giving us enough of a “kick in the pants” that the transition to the new system will not be a complete and total disaster.

Everyone knew that this day would eventually arrive, but the massive increase in the number of Internet devices over the past decade has caused it to arrive faster than most experts were anticipating.

The new system is known as “IPv6”, and it will have far more capacity than IPv4 has.  As mentioned earlier, IPv4 cannot support much more than 4 billion IP addresses, but IPv6 can reportedly handle 340 trillion devices connected to the Internet at the same time.

Once all of the IPv4 addresses are gone, the only addresses that will be available will be IPv6 addresses.

So why doesn’t everyone just send out  an “upgrade” or a “patch” for IPv6 right now and get it over with?

Well, unfortunately things are not quite that simple.

IPv4 and IPv6 are two different languages.

Let’s look at two examples.  The following is an example of a hypothetical IP address under the current IPv4 system….


Under IPv6, IP addresses will look much different.  The following is a hypothetical example of an IP address under the new system….


The big problem is that the vast majority of Internet equipment currently in use around the world has no way to process the new language.

As the new system is implemented, all kinds of compatibility problems could surface.  A recent article posted on Salon explained it this way….

As Internet service providers run out of IPv4 addresses, they’ll have to give subscribers IPv6 addresses. The challenge lies in connecting them to websites that have only IPv4 addresses. In essence, IPv4 and IPv6 are different “languages.” Several “translation” technologies are available, but they haven’t been tested on a large scale.

But change has to come to the system.  Once the IPv4 addresses run out we are going to be facing some huge problems.

Experts are saying that as IPv4 addresses run out, this may create a huge “traffic jam” on the Internet.  In fact, some are even claiming that it may get to the point where you will not be able to get online until someone else goes offline.

However, the transition to IPv6 promises to be painful as well.  As the new system is implemented you may encounter very slow surfing and there may be many websites that you just cannot get to at all.

It would be hard to understate how much of a technical headache this could all be.  A recent article in The Guardian explained some of the headaches that we will soon be facing….

However, an IPv6 address is in effect unreadable by equipment set up to handle IPv4 addresses, which comprises pretty much every piece of computer and network equipment on sale, apart from newer computers running Microsoft’s Windows 7 or Apple’s Mac OS X, and most smartphones. Older system such as PCs running the ten-year-old Windows XP – still in widespread use – and the broadband modems used in households cannot understand IPv6 addresses without special configuration that would defeat most users.

Are you starting to get the picture?

There is a good chance that your current computer is not equipped to handle IPv6.

There is a good chance that your current router is not equipped to handle IPv6.

So is there any way for us to fix these problems individually?

Well, according to the article in The Guardian, we are going to have to rely on ISPs and router manufacturers to handle most of these compatibility issues….

The onus is on ISPs and router manufacturers to provide ways around the problem, including upgrades to their services and hardware. You might have to upgrade your computer’s operating system, and you might have to buy a new router.

Hopefully this transition to IPv6 will go a lot smoother than some of the most pessimistic experts are projecting.  Tens of millions of Americans are highly dependent on the Internet and if it gets really snarled up it could have a dramatic impact on the economy.

Unfortunately, we live at a time when change is inevitable.  The Internet is constantly changing and not all of those changes are for the better.

Canada’s largest telecommunications company, Bell, has gotten approval from the government to institute “pay-as-you-go” Internet meters.  Other major Canadian ISPs are expected to follow suit.  Under this new system, Canadians will pay for content per gigabyte and there will be much lower caps on Internet usage.

Canadians have been expressing great outrage over all this, but right now it looks like these changes are moving forward.

Changes of a different sort are coming to the U.S. Internet.

As I have written about previously, the Obama administration is proposing the development of a “universal Internet ID” program that would watch, track, monitor and even potentially control your activity on the Internet.

Someday, you may need a license to get on the Internet, a license to make a website and you may need to watch your “Internet meter” to make sure that you can afford to pay for the minutes that you are spending online.

Not only that, but governments all over the world are starting to really restrict free speech on the Internet.  We all saw what has happened over the last couple of weeks in Egypt.  Someday a lot of the information that you can currently find online may be taken down by government censors.  Nothing is guaranteed in this day and age.

So enjoy the current form of the Internet while it lasts.

Change is coming, and it may not be for the better.

  • ATT & VZ are two of the six big cos. that own all media – they’ve been gunning to triple dip from their obscene profit margins and now IPv6 will give them just another excuse to keep squeezing. Stop big media! http://www.stopbigmedia.com/

  • A Dodgy Bloke

    Can’t Al Gore fix this?

  • KWJ

    ipv4/ipv4 is the perfect opportunity for implementation of InternetID worldwide and a more profitable cost structure; aka. the Australian model. In my network engineering experience a great deal of the last 5 years has seen all the hardware released as ipv6 compatible. It’s simply not in the corporate interests to have left it this late so they have already addressed it. Just look at Cisco’s broadband processing engines: they’ve been ipv6 compatible since 2007 at the latest. Gov will exploit this fake crisis along the pre-defined problem/reaction/solution method. It’s a sham.

  • The change to the new protocol sounds like a perfect opportunity for big brother to force us to register our IP address to get our license for the Internet.

    International Silver Network

  • mondobeyondo

    Foresight has never really been our strong point, has it?

    Way back in the beginning of the computer era, someone made a quote that “the average person will never need more than 64K of memory”, or words to that effect. Can’t remember who it was, but it wasn’t Steven Jobs. It may have been Bill Gates, or perhaps the chairman of Atari at the time.

    Ha. Ha. Haaaaa!

  • Susan

    More things to worry about than the internet or those IP addresses.

    Alot of people think we are doomed, but there are still great ways to make money.

    I subscribe to the FFT newsletter at http://www.forecastfortomorrow.com that guy is calling for a bigger event to come in the next few months. His oil calls are insane, and I have been making good money with that.

    Start stocking up on gold people!! Do it yesterday.

  • Charles Grey

    4,294,967,396 or 256^4 is the actual limit.

  • Tao Jones

    “Start stocking up on gold people!! Do it yesterday.”


    can you eat gold? Can gold keep you warm? Can gold provide liquid?

    Do you think that if things really break down that your masters will simply allow you to keep your gold? They would simply make it illegal to own gold and confiscate it from you.

    They’ve done it before, you know.

    Gold is not the answer, PEOPLE are the answer! We need communities of free-thinking people able to work together for a common goal.

    The old paradigm is dying, stop clinging on to yesterday’s solutions and think ahead.

    Free your minds.

  • mondobeyondo

    No, you can’t eat gold. It tastes icky, and leaves a rather metallic taste in your mouth.

    But you can use gold, and other precious metals, as a medium of purchase,better than the dollar, to purchase food which you and your family can enjoy. The vast majority of stores and businesses won’t take a gold coin as payment. THEY USED TO. Before 1933. Not anymore.

    If you had an ounce or two of gold, you could have also purchased blankets, a central heating unit for your house, an air conditioner for the summer heat, broccoli, a pot roast, pants and skirts, T-shirts, a suit for the guys, pantyhose for the ladies, and lettuce and a salad as well. And with what’s left over, you could even see a movie or two.

    Not these days, as FRN’s (Federal Reserve Notes) are the means of exchange in every American marketplace. But not for long. It’s not backed by gold. Used to be, but not anymore. Your dollar isn’t backed by ANYTHING. That is why our standard of living will fall, and your savings will decrease.

  • Sounds like a great opportunity to kick some people off the Internet. I can think of a few…

    I’ve been waiting for them to change the system to charge for Internet access. It will be interesting to see how it play out.

    David – The Elevation Group

  • And everyday, millions of people use the internet for different usage and are now being reliable with the power of internet. Can you imagine the outcry if they took away people’s access to Facebook?

    We help Americans find jobs and prosperity in Asia. For details, visit http://www.pathtoasia.com/job/

  • Y2K

    Could be another of those Y2K scam ????

  • Matthew

    This doesn’t make sense to me…
    7 Billion people in the world, 3 Billion+ use the internet… how can the limit not have been reached?

  • A.S.

    I just spoke to my provider, Bezeq, in Israel, and although they are aware of the ipv6, they said they will still use ipv4.

    I don’t understand how the two, ipv6 and ipv4, can work together. Will my guaranteed speed of 12 Megabits be significantly reduced? Will the internet work at all?

    Who can I speak to that can give me a reliable answer as to if Israel is ipv6 compliant? Thank you.