First, know that for a computer to use the Internet, it must have an IP address.Â This blog rests on a server that has one, your ISP gave your modem one, every website and mail server that you have ever connected to has one (at least).Â IP addresses are fundamental to the underlying technology that makes the Internet work.
ICANN, the organization that hands out those IP addresses, recently gave out the last available IP addresses to some folks in Africa, the Pacific Rim, and others who will use them to expand Internet connectivity in their regions.Â So there’s no more IP addresses – will the Internet stop working?Â No, and it will probably never truly “stop” working.
The problem lies with the fact that we all have home computers, laptops, smartphones, and companies are growing their networks explosively on the Internet, and every one of these computers and servers needs an IP address to communicate.
Many companies have taken a “bandaid” approach by creating mini-networks called LANs (Local Area Networks) for their internal networks, allowing many tens or hundreds of their computers to share one public IP address, but as the need for these IP addresses grows, such a solution won’t work long-term.
Engineers have known about this problem for years, but vendors have been slow to prepare.Â However, just like area code splits with our phone numbers, when the time does come for us to accommodate this growth, you will know about it well in advance, and heck, we may even get lucky – our computers might take care of it for us.