The world could run out of web addresses within a matter of weeks, Internet co-founder and Google Vice President Vint Cerf said on Friday.
In an interview with the Sunday Morning Herald, he said, “I thought it was an experiment and I thought that 4.3 billion IP addresses would be enough to do an experiment.” He also said that he didn’t know that the experiment he started in 1977 would ever end. When asked about why he thought about stopping at 4.3 billion addresses, he added “Who the hell knew how much address space we needed?”
IPv4 Exhaustion & Solution Detailed
IP addresses are the unique sequence of numbers assigned to each computer, website or other internet-connected devices. They are not the same as website domain names. To resolve the crisis, an updated protocol for the Internet, IPv6, currently being planned by the industry, will create trillions of addresses.
IPv4 uses 32-bit (four-byte) addresses, which limits the address space to 4,294,967,296 (2^32) possible unique addresses. However, some are reserved for special purposes such as private networks (~18 million addresses) or multicast addresses (~270 million addresses). This reduces the number of addresses that can potentially be allocated for routing on the public Internet. This limitation has stimulated the development of IPv6. IPv6 uses a 128-bit address, whereas IPv4 uses only 32 bits. The new address space supports 2^128 (about 3.4×10^38) addresses.
This expansion provides considerable flexibility in allocating addresses and routing traffic. It also eliminates the primary need for network address translation (NAT), which gained widespread deployment as an effort to alleviate IPv4 address exhaustion. IPv6 also implements many other new features.
It lacks backwards compatibility i.e. IPv6 networks can’t communicate with IPv4-only devices.