Maybe you’ve heard about this already, but if you haven’t, you might be interested to know that early in the morning on February 4th, it’s predicted that we’ll officially run out of IP addresses on the Internet. At our current rate of usage, the world is consuming about one million addresses every four hours.
Simply put, an IP address is your address on the Internet. If you’re using, say, Comcast, to connect to the Internet, Comcast issues you a different IP address every time you get online, so your address would be “dynamic.” Some IP addresses are “static” because they remain the same at all times. Examples of static addresses would include web sites, file servers, etc. For even more information on the topic, check this out: http://www.whatismyip.com/
No two devices should have the same IP address. It would be as bad as if someone else had your exact, same street address. The post office wouldn’t know where to send your mail! Each address has to be unique.
We’re currently all using IPv4 (version 4) addresses, but because we’re literally running out of numbers, we’ll soon have IPv6 addresses added into the mix. Version 6 addresses will include letters as well as numbers, which will provide something like a zillion more possible combinations. http://tinyurl.com/4gf2rvh
The addition of the v6 addresses is supposed to be both painless and seamless. We won’t even notice or know the difference, but of course, we always have a worrywort or two to toll the warning bells. Remember the Y2K scare eleven years ago? This isn’t nearly as bad as that, but the doomsayers have gotten some attention. http://ipv6.he.net/ If you check out this link, please notice their “countdown” section on the right side of the page.
Speaking as someone who used to work with IP addresses — a lot — I find all of this fascinating, but not particularly worrisome. Do you remember when the Internet just got going on home computers, and everyone had AOL? The world has come a long way since then, and we now literally have billions of devices online worldwide, and every device needs its own unique address. I never thought I’d live to see the day that the world would literally run out of numbers. Amazing. The smart people are taking care of this issue though, so it shouldn’t cause any problem, but let’s all keep our fingers crossed, just in case. We live in interesting times, don’t we?