An Internet storm is brewing, and not everyone is prepared.
Specifically, we’re running low on IPv4 addresses, a supply that is expected to be exhausted by this summer in North America.
Every desktop and laptop, server, scanner, printer, modem, router, smartphone, and tablet is assigned an IP address, which serves as a unique identifier to track online movements.
IP version 4 (IPv4) is the most widely deployed standard. But there is a finite amount of these IP addresses that can be distributed, and it’s crunch time. Asia and Europe are already out, and the U.S. is up next, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The next version, IPv6, provides a wider pool of IP addresses (in the trillions), but many organizations have been slow to make the switch. As the Journal noted, firms that upgrade to IPv6 need to buy new network switches and routers, and only about 9 percent of the Web has made the move, according to Facebook, which has moved about 90 percent of the network to IPv6.
Providers of cloud-computing services and other similarly large Web systems are most at risk, the Journal said; they could garner unexpected costs and technical issues, or be restricted from serving new customers.