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Are We Really Running out of IP Addresses?

By Sherry Holetzky
Updated May 16, 2024
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The simple answer is yes, we are running out of IP addresses, or at least the commonly recognized type. The current formula for web addresses, known as IPv4, creates formulas or addresses using various combinations of four integers. Clearly, there are not an unlimited number of figurations, so it is not surprising that we are running out of IP addresses. With over 4 billion possible combinations, it is still not enough to keep up with increasing demand.

Many experts agree that we are running out of IP addresses but no one is sure how long we have until it becomes a serious problem. Some have said it could happen as soon as 2010. Is there anything that can be done to keep us from running out of IP addresses? Indeed there is. There is no need to panic as people did when Y2K was looming, but action should be taken.

The most obvious option to prevent running out of IP addresses is switching to a different formula. The good news is that there is already a similar one available, known as IPv6. Using a combination of six integers allows trillions of new numbers to be created, which will help keep us from running out of IP addresses.

Those in the industry must be aware that we are running out of IP addresses, so why isn’t everyone jumping on the IPv6 bandwagon? It takes a good deal of work to change over to it and it costs money. It will take several years to adapt to IPv6. Since most consumers are satisfied with their current service, they are not demanding change. Since they are not yet making demands, most companies are not rushing to make changes. Yet, if they began the transition when concerns about running out of IP addresses were first made known, or even if they started now, they could quite possibly be ready when the shortage becomes more serious.

However, there are some companies that have already implemented IPv6 or are preparing to do so. Those who are prepared will make the transition more seamlessly, before running out of IP addresses becomes too serious. Those that wait will likely be inundated with extra costs as they try to hurriedly implement the new system. As with many other types of services, consumers can expect these increased costs to be passed directly to them. The most likely way to pass along the costs is via increasing prices for internet service.

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Discussion Comments
By anon148907 — On Feb 02, 2011

is that really such a bad thing? remember when y2k came along and that want even a real threat, it seems best to let the service providers deal with the switch.

By anon132719 — On Dec 08, 2010

@anon19096: that is not a simple solution because it would take hundreds of years to find them all and shut them down, plus they amount of money needed, it is a bad idea, though a good thought.

By anon19096 — On Oct 06, 2008

simple solution.... shut down all the bogus websites such as scam sites to free up the net a bit. I bet it will add 1/2 Bil more IP addys to the list. website oversees? no prob.. blackhole the website and reuse the IP.

By anon13774 — On Jun 04, 2008

wow i didn't know about this ip shortage before. it's true that people still don't know about ip shortage mainly because no one is informing the common man about this in fear that they will ask their service provider to change the current configuration to ipv6 as internet providers would not be having the resources, the infrastructure or the money to develop this technology (which is the only reason i can think of for people not knowing about this)

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