Running out of Addresses

There are a lot of people who have heard about the new IP address system, but do not actually know what this is.  If you are using the internet then you may want to have some idea as to what is happening.  You should also consider why there is a need for a new IP address system, and what this actually means for you.

What is an IP Address

Before you look at new and old IP address systems you have to know what an IP address is.  An IP address is a series of numbers that allows the internet and host services to differentiate your computer from the billions of other computers and devices that are connected to the internet.  Many people find it easier to consider the IP address like you home address.  This is a unique address that determines where you are so that you can receive letters.  The same can be said for your IP address.  This unique number allows you to be identified and the data you request when you surf the web has a specific destination. You will have an IP address whether you are with Sky Broadband, BT broadband, O2 or any other network.

Why Do We Need a New IP Address System?

Now, you might be wondering why a new IP address system is needed.  The truth is that the world is running out of IP addresses.  The number of devices that are connected to the internet is exhausting the number of IP addresses that can be made using the format currently in use.  When the IP addresses run out then no new devices will be able to access the internet and this is not really an option.

There are already measures in place to make the existing IP addresses go further than they should.  The main system used is the assigning of dynamic IP addresses.  Every user in the UK will have a dynamic IP address unless they are paying for a static IP address.  The dynamic IP addresses will change every time you log onto the internet.  By doing this services providers are able to recycle IP addresses and they do not use as many.  However, this will not work forever and a new IP address system is needed. 

The Use of IPv4

The current IP address system that is in place right now is the IPv4 address system.  This system has a set format for all the IP addresses that are assigned to any device that connects to the internet.  These devices could be a computer, mobile or tablet.  When they connect to the internet they are given an IP address in the IPv4 format.  This format is a sequence of 10 numbers split into two groups of two and two groups of four. 

The Use of IPv6

IPv6 is the sixth revision of the IP address system and will be the one that replaces the IPv4 system.  This system actually functions in a similar manner to the IPv4 system.  Both systems offer unique numerical sequences that are going to be used for device identification.  The one major difference between the IPv6 and the IPv4 systems is that the IPv6 system will utilise 128-bit addresses. 

What Happened to IPv5?

You might be wondering why we are moving from IPv4 straight to IPv6 and not to IPv5.  IPv5 which is also known as the Internet Stream Protocol was actually developed in the 1980s as an experiment.  This IP address system was used to transmit video, audio and simulations across the internet.  Many major corporations used this system, but it was never introduced as an official address system.

Why Is IPv6 Being Used?

The main reason why IPv6 is going to replace IPv4 is due to the amount of address space this system offers.  The addresses that will be used are going to be different, but the average user is not actually going to be noticing much difference.  While the IPv4 address was number based the IPv6 system uses numbers and letter to create the addresses. 

The format of the IPv6 address is a series of 8 groups of 4 letters and numbers.  The groups will be separated by colons instead of full stops like the IPv4 numbers.  An IPv6 numbers will look similar to this: 2002:bg8:1d60:888:er3:7649:6t8.

The larger address capability of the new system will allow for trillions of new addresses which should be enough to support the number of new devices that are going to be connected to the internet.  There are also a number of services that will benefit from the use of the new IP address system such as interactive games, e-commerce and IP telephony. 

Who Created the New System?

You may be wondering who it is that came up with this new IP address system.  The creators of this system where part of the Internet Engineering Task Force.  This is a large international community of computer creators, sellers and researchers.  In fact anyone who is knowledgeable about the internet and computing and worried about the future of the internet is part of this task force.  The overall goal of the task force is to make the internet better for everyone.

Will IPv6 Run Out As Well?

If the addresses of IPv4 ran out it is fair to assume that IPv6 will also run out.  However, according to the task force the large capacity that comes with IPv6 means that it should not run out.  This new system has been designed with the increasing access to the internet being taken into account.  The trillions of addresses that can be created should cover all the devices that are going to access the internet. 

How Does This Affect You?

While it is good to know about the new IP address system you have to consider how this actually affects you or if it affects you at all.  If your provider is making the transition to IPv6 you should not actually have any problems and you may not even realise that you are now on an IPv6 address.  Most operating system actually supports the new IP addresses.  There are some routers that may not support the IP address, though and you could be using an IPv4 address instead.  

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