Experts have warned that internet addresses based on the current scheme (IPv4) will run out in 2011 or by early 2012, according to a report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
The OECD is a forum where the governments of thirty democracies collaborate to address the economic, social and environmental challenges of globalisation.
In their annual Communications Outlook report, the OECD has found that while growth in broadband subscriptions have fuelled the expansion of the internet, it also represents a downside. Global internet hosts grew 33% to reach 540 million in January 2008 but over half of all hosts (287 million) had a generic top-level domain rather than one tied to a country code.
“This growth in the number of networks, and devices attached to those networks has led to a shortage of unique Internet addresses used to identify individual devices connected to the Internet. As a result, there is a need for all network operators to upgrade to a new Internet addressing scheme, Internet protocol version 6 (IPv6),” the report states.
IPv4 addresses are capped at a maximum of 2^32 (a little more than four billion) unique addresses, while the next evolution IPv6 allows for 2^128, which will accommodate the rapid expansion of the internet over the coming years.
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