Many people are not aware that there are a limited number of internet addresses, 4.3 billion to be precise. However, according to the Wall Street Journal, North America is very close to using up its allotment of IPv4 addresses, which means traditional U.S. IP addresses are likely to become more expensive in just a few months.
More on IP addresses
IP addresses are ID numbers that allow one device to connect to another. When a computer connects to a web page, or when you post a video on YouTube, or when your smartphone gets an update, the devices locate each other using IP addresses.
The creators of the Internet back in the mid-1980s developed the IPv4 specification, which supports 4.3 billion IP addresses. They figured that would be enough for the entire Internet, but it didn’t work out that way. The American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) president and CEO John Curran ointed out in a recent interview that only 3.4 million IP addresses remain. ARIN manages the 1.3 billion IP addresses assigned to North America. He says by August at the latest, all the remaining 3.4 million addresses are expected to be spoken for.
Companies snapping up remaining IPv4 internet addresses
This looming shortage of IPv4 internet addresses has resulted in large companies who are looking to maintain a major online presence snapping up extra IP addresses The price of addresses is expected to go much higher than the current $11.25. Microsoft, for example, purchased 666,624 addresses for $7.5 million from defunct Nortel Networks. Salesforce.com also bought 262,144 addresses so it could continuously grow its data centers to deliver its cloud-based enterprise services.
IPv6 internet addresses
Facebook has decided to take a more high-tech approach. Instead of making hoard buys for IPv4 addresses, the firm decided to upgrade to the newer IPv6 specification. In fact, IPv6 offers up to 340 undecillion addresses. FYI, that is 340 followed by 36 zeroes. Facebook engineer Paul Saab points out that the fast growth of the social network’s user numbers has been helped by upgrading its network switches and routers to IPv6, enabling the building of new data centers.