A current news report caught my attention, piqued my interest and ignited a spark to find out more about running out of room on the internet. In an interview with the co-founder of Casaba Protection (a team of security leaders who research, develop and apply solutions to internet security problems), Mike Bucholtz told viewers that reviews about how we are getting very near to running out of addresses for all the mobile phones we are now using is true. In 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 amount of devices that can “talk” or be connected 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 before mentioned addressing capability of about 4 billion addresses and was thought to be sufficient in the early design levels of the Internet. It has been the unforeseen explosive growth and worldwide growth of networks that has led to the current situation. By the late 1980’s, this became apparent that methods needed to be developed to conserve address space. Within the early 1990s, even after a redesign of the addressing system, it grew to become clear that this would not suffice to prevent IPv4 address exhaustion, and that additional changes to the Internet infrastructure had been needed.
Now plans are being created and a great deal of infrastructure is already in place to move to a new internet protocol that expands the number of addresses by 4 times. This is Internet Protocol edition 6 (IPv6) and will greatly increase the number of devices supported. It is estimated that everybody on earth could have multiple devices and not come close to using all obtainable addresses.
The last blocks of free IPv4 addresses were assigned in February 2011, although many free addresses nevertheless remain in most assigned blocks and can continue to be allocated for some time. While IPv6 has been implemented on all main operating systems in use in commercial, company, and home consumer environments, IPv6 is not backwards compatible with IPv4. As an example, 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 amounts to a parallel, independent network. Exchanging traffic between the two networks requires special translator gateways. However , modern computer operating systems are capable of implementing dual-protocol software for transparent access to both networks
What needs to happen right now 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 supporting 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 event is to evaluate the real world effects of the IPv6. The event is also known as Try out Day and will be held on 06 8, 2011.
Facebook, Google, Cisco, Verizon, Yahoo and Bing will 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 motivate organizations across the industry – Web service providers, hardware makers, operating system vendors and web companies – to prepare their services for IPv6 to ensure a successful transition as IPv4 details run out.
Changing over to IPv6 might be expensive and complicated. A similar situation recently occurred with the transition in order to digital television. For years digital TV was available along with analog although with limited content. As curiosity and content grew, TV stations began simulcasting both analog and digital programming. People began purchasing digital TVs.
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The move to all 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 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 right now demanding.