Web will run out of IP addresses by 2010

The "father" of the internet has warned that the web will run out of IP addresses by 2010, saying the web does not have enough unique codes that allow computers to communicate with each other.

Vint Cerf, the "father" of the web, said when the internet protocol (IP) addresses do run out, the connectivity of the internet will be damaged and many computers will be unable to go online. "This is like the internet running out of telephone numbers and with no new numbers, you can’t have more subscribers," Cerf was quoted as saying by the Daily Telegraph newspaper today.

The computer scientists, who helped invent the system, called for early preparations to switch addresses to a new system. He underlined that the web does not have enough unique codes that allow system to communicate with each other.

When the internet was developed in 1977 there were 4.2 billion addresses available under the internet protocol version four (IPv4) system.  According to the report in the British daily, each of the IPv4 addresses has a series of 32 binary numbers, but with the surge of broadband globally, it is estimated that these addresses will run out by 2010.

A new system called IPv6 has been ready for a decade and is already used in Japan to connect thousands of earthquake sensors through a computer system that sends automatic alerts to television programmes and turns traffic lights red, the report said.

IPv6 addresses are 128 bits long and so provide a possible 340 trillion, trillion, trillion address space, it said.

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