What’s the biggest threat facing the Internet these days? SOPA? Nope. Bandwidth? Nope. The answer is the shortage of Internet addresses or aka “phone numbers” attached to each computer connected to the Internet.
The official protocol governing Internet addresses is known as IPv4 , essentially representing a free pool of IPs that ran dry in 2011.
IPv4 has approximately four billion IP addresses (the sequence of numbers assigned to each Internet-connected device).
There is a solution or “upgrade” available for the Internet known as IPv6 that works across networks, software and applications.
Through IPv6, the next-generation Internet protocol that provides more than 340 trillion, trillion, trillion addresses, will connect the billions of people not connected today and will help ensure the Internet can continue its current growth rate indefinitely.
The problem is that the only a minutia of servers and hosting providers have switched over to the new protocol, which threatens to impact uptime and performance of the web over the next couple of years.
“IPv4 provides around 4 billion IP addresses. IPv4 addresses are increasingly scarce as more and more devices connect to the Internet. IPv6 expands the address space on the Internet from 32 bits to 128 bits,” said Microsoft’s networking and access technology department.
But, it goes further than this also solving technical issues relating to items such as mobile data reception and transmission.
Microsoft and a few other companies like Cisco saw the problem early on and started preparing their software and servers for this upgrade, including IPv6 support built into Microsoft Windows (Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2).
There are still companies that have a cache of IPv4’s available but you can expect to see a rapid shift in the next year or two over to IPv6.