Have we really almost run out of space on the internet? These are the types of possibilities that never occur to us common folk as we acquire more and more electronic devices from handhelds, to routers, to desktops, laptops, printers, modems, smartphone’s, Androids, IPads, and all other technological devices used so than we can keep track of Facebook, Twitter and MySpace (if you’re still into that sort of thing) for minute by minute updates on the happenings of our colleagues. We never stopped to think that “hey, since I have thousands (pardon the exaggeration) of electronic devices then Suzie Q may have around the same amount. At this rate maybe one of these days we’ll exhaust our resources?” No, we never stop to think that at all. In fact, we’ve been groomed to believe quite the contrary. We’re groomed to think that the internet offers an infinite supply of information accessed by an infinite array of mediums and we’ll have access to it all forever and ever. Well, the joke just may be on us.
No needs to quiver in fear now, the intellects in computer world have come up with a way to evade the combustion of IP addresses…at least for now. How you ask? Well I’ll tell you. Let’s start with a little IP background. An IP (Internet Protocol) address is a unique number assigned to electronic devices with the sole purpose of allowing them to communicate on a computer network. Our current main IP technology is the IPv4. When you connect to the internet you are assigned a 12 digit IP address with the IPv4 currently having the capacity to house about 4 billion individual IP addresses. These IP addresses are dividing into classes, some more important than others, with their division generally based on public and private use. Some of these IP classes (Class C in particular—which is designate for private use) have addresses that are reusable but this seemingly isn’t enough. Herein lies the tiff. Within weeks from now, yes, you read right, WEEKS we could possibly exhaust the available space allowed in the IPv4.
So what happens now? Well, funny you should ask. Now the system gets revamped. You overcome the glitches with the IPv4 by implementing the IPv6! This new (and seemingly improved) system incorporates both letters and numbers into the IP addresses allowing for nearly a zillion different combinations. That sounds amazing, I’m sure, but I’m also sure that the billion combinations offered by the IPv4 amazed once upon a time and you see where we are with that. So yes, for right now we are “safe” from collapse but I ask that you not get to comfortable here amongst your zillions. There will inevitably come a time when those letters and numbers will tap out and we’re back here at square one. Whatever will we do then? Incorporate symbols?! I wrote that in an attempt to be ridiculous but that just may be true. We are a people who don’t succumb easily to predetermined limits, instead we set new ones. When will we reach our ceiling? Is there a ceiling at all? For some reason I’d like to hope so.