For a while now we’ve known that we are running out of IPv4 addresses. In fact, even as far back as a decade, we knew that we would eventually run out of the identifying series of numbers used to connect to the internet. The flaw is in the design of IPv4, yet knowing how to solve this issue has been heavily contested and remains so today. Learn more about how the dwindling number of IPv4 addresses may affect your web hosting experience below.
What are IP addresses?
IP addresses are unique strings of numbers separated by dots, or full stops used to identify a device using the internet protocol over a network. Each device connected to the web, from your laptop and smartphone to your thermostat and your refrigerator, uses an IP address to receive permissions to communicate. IP addresses are available in two different protocols – IPv4 and IPv6 – which were created to help IPv4 carry the burden of so many addresses needed with a finite number available.
The problem with IPv4
IPv4 addresses are what are referred to as 32-bit binary numbers, limiting the availability of IPv4 addresses to 4,294,967,296 unique IPv4 addresses available. That may seem like a lot, but if you consider that 7.3 billion people live on our planet, and many of them have up to a dozen devices, you can see the dilemma. The shortage of IPv4 addresses has reached a pinnacle, leaving many scrambling to cover their connections by either paying an additional fee or by switching to IPv6 addresses.
Sharing is caring
The Internet Registry System has set regulations in an attempt to democratically assign the remaining IP addresses. These guidelines are an attempt to fairly distribute IPv4 addresses when necessary. These guidelines are enforced by a not-for-profit organisation called RIPE NCC. Their purpose is to allocate and register blocks of IP numbers to members. See the guidelines set out by RIPE NCC below:
“Public IPv4 address assignments should be made with the following goals in mind:
- Uniqueness: Each public IPv4 address worldwide must be unique. This is an absolute requirement guaranteeing that every host on the Internet can be uniquely identified.
- Aggregation: Distributing IPv4 addresses in a hierarchical manner permits the aggregation of routing information. This helps to ensure proper operation of Internet routing.
- Fairness: Public IPv4 address space must be fairly distributed to the End Users operating networks.
- Registration: The provision of a public registry documenting address space allocations and assignments must exist. This is necessary to ensure uniqueness and to provide information for Internet troubleshooting at all levels.”
Internet service providers and other organisations are eager to comply with the rules above to ensure that fair practices are being followed around the globe. Compliance has led to many businesses and organisations changing their IP address pricing and practices. Be sure to discuss IP address options with your web host to understand how these guidelines may affect your hosting.
IPv6 is an option for those who do not want the hassle of IPv4 addresses. These IP addresses are 128-bit compared to IPv4’s 32-bit protocol. The length of the IPv6 address has 2^128 or 3.4×10^38 addresses available. In total, this number amounts to 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456 different unique IPv6 address available for use. As you can imagine, we are not likely to run out of IPv6 addresses for a very, very long time. In total there are approximately 340 undecillion IPv6 addresses.
What you can expect…
Unfortunately, you can expect to see higher prices for IPv4 addresses in the very near future. Many users may have a hard time finding IPv4 addresses to use for their purposes. Many hosting companies have IPv4 addresses available, but there may be restrictions on how many can be assigned to each account. For more information about obtaining IPv4 addresses from UK2.NET, please contact our expert technical support team and they will assist you.