This article was last updated on April 16, 2022
To give a bit of information or if you’re computer savvy, we can joke about bit, byte, word and double word of information, on February 3, 2011 – mark this date down in your calendars! – the last IP addresses were allocated and there ain’t no more. IANA which oversees all IP numbers, allocated the last five blocks to the five RIRs so what the RIRs have is all there is.
What? 4 billion?
All of us in setting up our home computers at one time or another must have run across an odd-looking piece of information consisting of 4 numbers separated by periods in the form "184.108.40.206". (For those of you savvy readers who are going to immediately launch your DNS look-up; that is the main IP for Google.com). The IP or Internet Protocol address is a series of 4 bytes which designates the address of a computer on the Internet. This means all computers are identified by this unique address so when somebody sends a piece of information; all the other computers know where to route the information.
Quickie lesson. A bit is the fundamental building block of computers which consists of 2 states: on or off. A byte is a series of 8 bits which permits values from zero to two hundred and fifty-five. If you string 4 bytes together, you end up with 256 times 256 times 256 times 256 or 4,294,967,296 combinations.
Now think about that one. For years, the Internet has been working on a 4 byte address system giving us over 4 billion combinations and we have run out. Holy Hannah! Who would have thought? Hmmm, were these the same people who thought using 2 digits for the year back in the 1970’s wasn’t such a bad idea because all those systems would be replaced by the year 2000? Ha!
In reality, the experts have known about this limitation for a long time and have been working to bring us a new and improved system. The current system is called IPv4 and the new system which will eventually replace it is called IPv6. What’s the big difference? IPv4 is a 32 bit addressing system. Each byte has 8 bits; 4 bytes give us 32 bits and that can be noted as two to the thirty-second power or 2^32 which equals the four billion plus number. IPv6 is a 128 bit system or 2^128 which equals (now watch carefully)
That is 10 to the 36th power which apparently is called a "undecillion". Okay, we are supposed to arrive at 7 billion people on the planet sometime in October 2011. We’ve now run out of the 4 billion plus Internet addresses we had and are moving to a new system which consists of 340 undecillion addresses. One video I saw said that this number is larger than all the grains of sand on the entire planet. I’m assuming we’re not going to be running out of this list of addresses any time soon.
Actually, not all addresses are used
Various erudite articles on the subject point out that not all addresses are currently used. In fact, there is supposedly a great deal of waste in the Internet. Lots of addresses are not being used and a re-allocation of said addresses could see us all making better use of the 4 billion plus we have.
I started at a company in the mid-nineties with 100 employees. Our ISP gave us 110 IP addresses. Over the years, the company shrank down to as low as 65 employees but is now on the rise and could be up to 80 employees by the end of this year. Add another 5 IP addresses for servers and we would need a total of 85 IP. All this time, we have always had 110. Think about it. We’ve been holding on to 20, 30, sometimes 40 IP addresses and not using them. If we hit our end of year complement of 80, we will continue to hold 25 addresses we don’t use. I suspect we could represent a typical situation for a lot of companies which would back up the notion that the four billion plus IP addresses making up IPv4 are not all being used. Now who’s going to figure this out and work out a practical re-allocation of addresses?
The explosion of the Internet
Do I have to state the obvious? Who knew the Internet would take off like it did? I was born in the 50’s. Now I have a difficult time imagining how I or anybody else could live without this communication platform. Good gawd, don’t deprive me of the Internet!
According to Wikipedia:
According to a 2001 study, there were a massive over 550 billion documents on the Web, mostly in the invisible Web, or deep Web. A 2002 survey of 2,024 million Web pages determined that by far the most Web content was in English: 56.4%; next were pages in German (7.7%), French (5.6%), and Japanese (4.9%). A more recent study, which used Web searches in 75 different languages to sample the Web, determined that there were over 11.5 billion Web pages in the publicly indexable Web as of the end of January 2005. As of March 2009, the indexable web contains at least 25.21 billion pages. On July 25, 2008, Google software engineers Jesse Alpert and Nissan Hajaj announced that Google Search had discovered one trillion unique URLs. As of May 2009, over 109.5 million websites operated. Of these 74% were commercial or other sites operating in the .com generic top-level domain.
YouTube: The State Of The Internet – Feb 28/2010
Here we look at the incredible growth of the internet, courtesy of Jess3, Jesse Thomas. JESS3 designed and animated this for the JESS3 lecture at AIGA Baltimore in Feb 2010. 1.73 billion internet users worldwide, 90 trillion emails sent in 2009, 234 million websites, 126 million blogs, 27.3 million tweets per day, 260 billion pages served per minute at Facebook. The numbers are staggering. The world can be found online.
YouTube: Social Media Revolution 2 – May 5/2010
Social Media Revolution 2 is a refresh of the original video with new and updated social media & mobile statistics that are hard to ignore. Based on the book Socialnomics by Erik Qualman.
The song Right Here, Right Now by Fatboy Slim has been used in several videos which show statistics relating to various subjects like world population.
I started out with a catchy title for the article. In reality, the Internet is not full. The RIRs, Regional Internet Registries will take some time to allocate the final addresses but already efforts are underway to introduce IPv6 across the board. As a consequence, we are not going to see any sort of disruption of service. Come to think of it, Y2K turned out to be a non-event and this will too. Chicken Little, the sky is not falling. Hmmm, I think the sky has been 128 bit all along. Maybe it’s even 256 bit. Imagine that one: 10 to the 78th power!
Click HERE to read more from William Belle.
Wikipedia: Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA)
Wikipedia: Regional Internet registry (RIR)
Wikipedia: Right Here, Right Now (Fatboy Slim song)
"Right Here, Right Now" is a 1999 single by Fatboy Slim. The song reached #2 on the UK charts. It was released on the studio album You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby and the compilation album The Greatest Hits – Why Try Harder.
The basic string melody of the song was sampled from the James Gang song, "Ashes, The Rain & I". The lyrics "right here, right now" are a sample of Angela Bassett’s voice from the film Strange Days at the 1:39:08 mark.
YouTube: Fatboy Slim – Right Here, Right Now – music video
The music video of the single shows a depiction of the process of evolution condensed into three and a half minutes. The beginning of the music video is set "350 billion Years Ago", and starts with a single cell organism in the ocean evolving into a jellyfish, a pufferfish and then a predatory fish. It manages to eat a smaller fish before leaping up onto dry land. With a dinosaur visible in the background and an insect in front, it stays still for a few seconds before setting off and eating the insect.
The land-fish evolves into a small alligator as it enters a forest. It sees a tall tree, which it climbs up. Its hands are visibly evolving until it arrives at the top as a chimp-like ape. It jumps from the tree into an icy landscape, enduring a blizzard as it evolves into a larger, gorilla-like ape. At the end of a large cliff, the ape beats its chest as the camera zooms out to show a vast desert.
The ape jumps onto the ground, where it has evolved into a primate resembling an orangutan. A large storm blows away much of its hair, turning it into a human (at this point the timer at the bottom right slows dramatically). The human runs much faster and puts on some trousers and a shirt. When fully clothed, it turns into a modern human with a beard. The man walks through a city environment and eats some food (taken from a cardboard cutout of Fatboy Slim himself), at which point he loses the beard and turns into the obese person from the cover of You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby. He finally sits down on a bench at night, at which point the video ends.
YouTube: Shocking Facts You Did Not Know A Minute Ago – Jan 6/2009
Fatboy Slim’s Right Here, Right Now