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The government created the Internet. Now it’s almost full, and you may have to take a number if you want in.

The American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN), the group that hands out the numerical codes, said last week it is running out of Internet addresses. On July 1, “for the first time, the American Registry for Internet Numbers had to tell an applicant for new Internet addresses to wait. ARIN simply didn’t have any blocks of addresses big enough to satisfy that applicant’s needs,” wrote IDG’s Stephen Lawson.

There are only about 150,000 addresses left in the pool at ARIN, one of five regional Internet registries around the world, Lawson wrote.

The issue revolves around IPv4 addresses – which consist of four groups of numbers separated by periods. They identify every device connected to the Internet. Being limited to those four numbers meant that only 4.3 billion addresses were available. That worked for a while. Vint Cerf, often referred to as the Father of the Internet, has said many times that running out of IPv4 numbers would be his fault.

“I thought it was an experiment and I thought that 4.3 billion [addresses] would be enough to do an experiment,” he said in 2011. “Who the hell knew how much address space we needed?”

Did someone say “Internet of Things”?

Gartner forecasts nearly 5 billion new Internet-connected devices will be added in the coming year, and as many as 25 billion in five years.

Enter the new Internet Protocol – IPv6. Think of it as a big new addition on an old house. No one can come through the front door any longer, but there’s a new way in and lots more room.

Cerf says in a video
that IPv6 will allow for 340,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 IP addresses.

Lots of companies and many Federal agencies already use IPv6. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a directive in 2010 that said agencies needed to deploy IPv6, establishing a series of 2012 and 2014 deadlines.

“IPv6 provides greatly expanded IP address space with better mobility and security. It can also reduce your network administration and security support costs downstream,” according to the General Services Administration.

Nearly half of Federal Websites are not yet on IPv6 and rates vary widely, according to NextGov, from as little as 4 percent at the Department of Agriculture to 100 percent at NASA. DoD still has a long way to go.

The Defense Department “has not met requirements to migrate the DoD enterprise network to IPv6,” wrote DoD Inspector General Carol N. Gorman in a December report. “Consequently, DoD is not realizing the potential benefits of IPv6, including battlefield operations, and could experience increased costs from further delays and increased vulnerability from adversaries.”

Bill Glanz
About Bill Glanz
Bill Glanz is the content director for MeriTalk and its Exchange communities. Over the past 14 years, he has worked as a business reporter, press secretary, and media relations director in Washington, D.C.
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