EU to seek longer internet addresses

The European Commission is aiming for a quarter of businesses, public authorities and households in the European Union to use next-generation URLs by 2010 because the current system is running out of addresses.

Pushing people toward internet Protocol version 6, or IPv6, would make available 'an almost unlimited' number of web addresses, just as lengthening telephone numbers has allowed more phones to plug in, the EU, quoted by an Associated Press report, also said.

The EU's internet commissioner said more addresses were needed if Europeans were to use internet-enabled devices such as smart tags in shops, factories and airports or intelligent heating and lighting systems in their homes, the report said.The addresses include long series of numbers to identify a web connection.

The Associated Press report further said of the 4.3 billion addresses allowed by the address system most people use now, IPv4, only 700 million, or 16%, are still available. IPv4 dates to 1984.

Moving to a next-generation internet could be like changing the engines on a moving airplane and cost billions of dollars in replaced networking devices, software and personal computers.

But advocates say restructuring of the web's underlying architecture will improve security, mobility and other emerging needs.

Japan's Nippon Telecom and Telegraph has already rolled out a public IPv6 network and China plans to put one in place shortly. But the ball isn't rolling yet in US and Europe, though the US has made IPv6 a condition for government contracts for web site services.

The EU executive called on European governments to follow suit.

The EU's web site will be IPv6-ready by 2010, it promised.