How did the internet almost run out of space?

The American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) is an organization that assigns IP addresses in North America. When ARIN announced that it has run out of IP addresses, some thought an internet apocalypse was imminent. At the time, any device in need of an IP address was added to a waiting list. The problem was that ARIN didn’t have any IP address left to assign to any device from the waiting list.

the internet connectivity map

All devices connected to the internet around the world [Courtesy:]

The IP address is the primary mean of identification on the internet platform. It is used to identify any kind of device that might be connected to the internet, ranging from computers, mobile phones and perhaps even robots. It consists of four sets of numbers, each ranging from 0 and 255. For example, an IP address could be This IP address representation is called the Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4).

IPv4 has been in use for quite a long time so it might be expected that it would eventually run out. IPv4 has 4.3 billion possible combinations and they are almost all used up. This means the internet is running out of space unless something can be done.

The CEO of ARIN had some disturbing statements as well. He said, “Within three to four weeks, we will hit the point where there is no inventory,”

the internet meme

The future without the internet [Courtesy:]

However, this development is not as surprising as it sounds. Last year, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) made statements claiming that IP addresses would be exhausted soon. In order to prevent that from happening, an upgraded version of IPv4 was initiated. This version is called Internet Protocol version 6 or IPv6.

In fact, IPv6 is not new to us. It has been in existence since the 1990s. Rather than using the conventional sets of numbers, IPv6 uses 8 sets of both numbers and letters. So for example, an IP address in IPv6 would look like this: 2001:0db8:0a0b:12f0:0000:0000:0000:0001.

IPv6 has 34 undecillion (that’s 34 with 13 zero’s behind it) combinations. It’s very unlikely that it would run out of space. It would also mean that almost anything could connect to the internet because of the sheer number of spaces available on the IPv6. This is indeed a very good progress.

The IPv6 is claimed to be faster than its counterpart. It is also claimed to be more direct and consumers will not notice the transition from using IPv4 to IPv6. Surprisingly enough, it happens that IPv6 has not been welcomed as well as it would have expected to be. In the U.S, only 21% of all the internet traffic operate using the IPv6. It is also believed to be much less outside the U.S according to data obtained by Google.

As more and more internet users appear, transition from IPv4 to IPv6 becomes inevitable. As a result, Internet Service Providers would need to brace for the impact that comes with the Information Age. The impact of exponential increase in internet traffic.

Source: USA Today