INTERTUBEN, SWITZERLAND – The current version of Internet Protocol (IPv4) is predicted to run out of addresses some time in 2010 or 2011, and its replacement IPv6 is already in danger of depletion, say observers.
“It’s hard to make a solid estimate,” said Hans Nat, director of the Center for Alarmist Statistics. “But even if the available addresses in IPv6 last until our own sun burns out, we’re still relying on a 20th century solution to a trillionth millennium problem.”
IPv4 provides about 4.3 billion distinct addresses, familiar to internet users in the form of strings like this: 192.168.255.128. This scheme provided enough addresses for all the users on the internet many years ago, but not enough for every person on earth – especially if we are to fulfill the promise of internet-connected refrigerators.
To work around this problem, scientists from The Internet invented network address translation, which allows refrigerators, printers and other devices to hide behind a “firewall” or “TP stack” that keeps your refrigerator or computer from catching an STP or virus from the internet. The major flaw in network address translation is that your router must dial “9” for an outside line, and then “1” for English.
With IPv6, every electronic device known to humanity can have its own unique address. You can be in Zurich and communicate from the hotel ice machine with a networked tile saw in Buenos Aires.
Nat recommends that the internet’s governing organizations begin planning now for the next version of IP. “Quadrillions of years may seem like a long time now, but that’s probably what the dinosaurs thought. And where are they now?”