Fresh Crop of 340 Undecillion IP Addresses Now Available

It’s official: The Internet recently ran out of IPv4 Internet addresses. But fear not, there’s a new round of addresses and it looks like they won’t exhaust anytime soon, with the introduction of 340 undecillion new, fresh addresses.

If you haven’t heard of undecillion before, it means a trillion trillion, which is notably more than the 4.3 billion IPv4 Internet addresses that were created in 1977 by a DARPA team led by Vint Cerf, Google’s Internet evangelist.

Cerf said they never expected his protocol to take off, exclaiming, “Who the hell knew how much address space we needed?”

However, Internet engineers soon realized the dilemma with the impending depletion of these protocol addresses that are used to identify and locate computers connected to the Internet. In the late 1990s, IPv6 was created and has been slowly  implemented into the Internet. The new protocol allows for 340 undecillion addresses or 340 trillion groups of one trillion networks each – each network can handle a trillion devices, according to InfoSecIsland.

The problem with IPv4 was that it used numeric addresses that are 32 bits long, giving a total of just over four billion potential numbers. But with the explosion of Internet-enabled devices and more people using the web, the four billion numbers weren’t enough. Enter the solution:  IPv6, which was developed in 1998.

IPv6 uses 128 bits rather than 32, producing 48 octillion addresses for every person on Earth, according to The Christian Science Monitor.

Although IPv6 solves the problem with address depletion, it creates a dilemma for Internet service providers because the two addressing schemes are not directly compatible.

“This is a major turning point in the ongoing development of the Internet,” Rod Beckstrom, ICANN’s president and chief executive, told The New York Times. “No one was caught off guard by this.”

The Times noted when it comes to industry, some businesses have responded faster than others. Google, Microsoft and Facebook say they have been taking the problem seriously for years in hopes of preventing any major disasters. The major operating systems, such as Microsoft’s Windows 7 and Apple’s Mac OS X, have already implemented the new system. And providers, including Comcast, say they are ready to make the switch, NYT said.

For those procrastinating about adopting the switch, June 8, 2011, will be a day to take the leap, as it marks World IPv6 Day. However, before doing so, companies should ensure their ISP or hosting providers have already moved to the new domain name system, Siliconrepublic said.

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