We’re running out of internet

I thought it was a joke too, but it’s true: soon -two to three years from now- there won’t be any room left on the internet and the cause is numbers.

Yesterday I was having dinner with a couple of people very high up in the internet. They do things that I usually don’t understand, but what they talked about yesterday I did: every machine that’s linked to the internet (meaning: is part thereof) has a unique digital adress, so no confusion can arise. It’s a number called ‘IP’-adress and it’s composed of so-many-digits. The maximum number of machines that can be part of the internet is ten to the power of so-many-digits. The number of machines that are now part of the internet is rapidly approaching said quantity. There’s ways to trick the system by using ‘art and flyworks’ (as we say in Dutch), but you can only stretch the system so far.

Luckily the people who do things that I usually don’t understand have found a more structural solution: IPv6 (‘IP’ version 6) which is a system for IP adresses composed of many-more-digits. With IPv6 it’s possible to throw ten to the power of many-more-digits machines into the internet and apparently that amount is so large, it won’t ever happen. Problem solved, or so you’d think.

Of course lots of programs and applications need to be rewritten/recoded/reprogrammed in order to for IPv6 to be implemented and this is where inertia has set in. It just isn’t happening. Some systems are ‘IPv6-ready’ -apparently my laptop is- but when my internet service provider isn’t, that helps me nothing.

If nothing happens -and it seems not enough is happening- in two to three years we’ll have a second Y2K-problem at hand, only this time it’s real…


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