The Internet is full up

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There are no more IP addresses in the Internet. The address space available has been exhausted. A new standard, IPv6 for short, is supposed to remedy matters. From 2012, Telekom will assign the new addresses in parallel with the ones based on the old protocol. The old protocol (IPv4) will continue to function in the Telekom network.

IP addresses are just as important to the Internet as the zip code is to a place. After German unification, the postal codes were given an extra digit, because four digits would just not have been enough with more than 12,000 cities and villages. It’s the same with the Internet. The address space is literally exhausted. The new Internet Protocol, IPv6, will in future replace IPv4, first introduced in 1981. The conversion will expand the address space available from its current 4.3 billion unique IP addresses to an almost infinitely large number of 340 tredecillion addresses.

The Internet of things The IPv4 protocol in current use cannot even provide all the seven billion people in the world with their own network address, because it was developed in the 1970s and 1980s for a computer network comprising only a few research institutes. However, in the future not only computers and cell phones will receive an IP address in the Internet, but also all sorts of other devices like electric meters, blinds or refrigerators, so that they can be controlled intelligently and efficiently. From a mathematical perspective, the new protocol provides enough addresses to give every insect in the world its own Internet access and still have plenty to spare. This makes the Internet of things possible. Expensive conversion Data traffic in the Internet goes across long distances, sea cables, powerful networks, so-called “backbones” from the access network into our households. So that both the old and the new protocol can be transported through the networks, all the components in the Web, the boosters and routers in the access network must support both protocols, that is, they must be made bilingual.

Things will start at the beginning of 2012 The users have as yet very little idea about this quiet conversion. Internet users do not have to be afraid that soon they will not be able to surf the Web. The current operating systems, like Windows, Mac and Linux, can already handle IPv6 with no problems at all, and the old standard, IPv4, will continue to be supported in the Internet. On international “IPv6 day” at the beginning of June, the new standard was tested worldwide by content providers like Telekom with the T-Online portal, Web hosting, authentication and e-mail via IPv6. No problems arose in the process, so parallel operations can begin. The Internet of things is at the gates.