Mobile device boom sparks U.S. web address shortage

A telecommunications official on Sept. 28 warned that the United States could run out of unique internet addresses to assign to new devices by the end of next year, Reuters reports. Internet Protocol version 4, known as IPv4, provides the dominant architecture for the internet. It requires devices to have unique identifiers, known as an IP address, but it only has space for 4.3 billion of those addresses. The recent profusion of mobile devices like Research in Motion’s BlackBerry and Apple’s iPad, and the expansion of internet services to more homes, have quickly depleted available addresses. An upgrade to the internet’s main communications protocol with more space, called IPv6, is available—but adoption in the United States has lagged behind Europe, China, and other countries. “We now face an exhaustion of IPv4 addresses,” Lawrence Strickling, administrator of the U.S. National Telecommunications and Information Administration, said at a meeting of government and industry stakeholders. “Fortunately, IPv6 will support 340 trillion trillion trillion addresses,” Strickling said, and he urged organizations to deploy and integrate IPv6 widely. But the transition might not be easy. It could cost enterprises a lot of money, and the new technology might not work well with the technology they use now…

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