Pool of existing Internet addresses now empty

15:17, February 04, 2011      

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The pool of available unallocated addresses for the existing Internet protocol has now been completely emptied, the organization that oversees the allocation of Internet addresses announced on Thursday.

The announcement was made by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), together with three other international non-profit groups which collaboratively work to coordinate the world's Internet addressing system and its technical standards.

The last five blocks of Internet addresses IPv4, the original Internet protocol addressing system, were allocated to five so- called Regional Internet Registry Thursday during a ceremony held in Miami in the U.S. state of Florida, according to a press released from ICANN.

"A critical point in the history of the Internet was reached today with the allocation of the last remaining IPv4 (Internet Protocol version 4) Internet addresses from a central pool," ICANN said.

ICANN noted that the depletion of the first generation of Internet addresses means the future expansion of the Internet is now dependent on the successful global deployment of the next generation of Internet protocol called IPv6.

Internet Protocol (IP) addresses are the unique numeric identifiers assigned to every computer or device that is connected to the Internet.

The original IPv4 protocol was developed in the early 1980s and has a capacity of just over four billion IP addresses.

The new Internet protocol, IPv6, will open up a pool of Internet addresses that is a billion-trillion times larger than the total pool of IPv4 addresses, which means the number of IPv6 addresses is virtually inexhaustible for the foreseeable future, ICANN said.

It also pointed out that Thursday's announcement is not " IPocalypse" as called by some media reports.

"This is a major turning point in the on-going development of the Internet," Rod Beckstrom, ICANN's president and chief executive officer, said in a statement.

"No one was caught off guard by this. The Internet technical community has been planning for IPv4 depletion for some time. But it means the adoption of IPv6 is now of paramount importance, since it will allow the Internet to continue its amazing growth and foster the global innovation we've all come to expect," he added.

The allocation of the final IPv4 addresses is analogous to the last crates of a product leaving a manufacturing warehouse and going to the regional stores or distributions centers, where they can still be distributed to the public, ICANN explained.

"Once they are gone, the supply is exhausted," it said in the press release.

Source: Xinhua
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