The number of mobile devices plus an increase in Internet services delivered to the home are resulting in a shortage of Internet addresses, and they could run out by the end of 2011.
Lawrence Strickling, administrator of the U.S. National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), said in a meeting that the U.S. faces an exhaustion of Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4), the unique identifier for all devices running on the Internet. There's only room for 4.3 billion such IP addresses, but they are quickly being gobbled up by the surge in smartphones. To date, about 94.5 percent of the more than 90 percent of public IP addresses the U.S. owns globally have been used.
The introduction of IP-based technologies such as WiMAX and M2M devices are also a factor in the decline of IPv4.
As such, Strickling is appealing to businesses to aggressively move forward with IPv6, which "will support 340 trillion, trillion, trillion addresses," Strickling was quoted as saying in Reuters.
IPv6 is a much longer address and allows for a greater combination of numbers. A flip to IPv6, however, could be costly for businesses as it requires software changes and upgrades, according to Todd Day, industry analyst with Frost & Sullivan.
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