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May 14, 2015

Limited supply of new Internet addresses is nearly gone

Upgrades could be costly for businesses

The world's limited supply of Internet Protocol (IP) addresses is nearly gone, The Wall Street Journal reports.

U.S. businesses looking to expand on the Internet will need to act quickly as inventory continues to dwindle.

The shortage of IP addresses (the Internet’s equivalent of telephone numbers) puts companies at risk for unexpected costs to maintain their Internet presence.

According to Sandra Brown, president of IPv4 Market Group, which brokers IP sales, prices are going to rise. Companies are currently paying roughly $11.25 per address. 

In 1981, 4.3 billion addresses were created for the first version of the Internet protocol, IPv4. However, now they are nearly all in use.

But this does not mean the end for the Internet.

The shortage isn’t as dire as it may appear. The 4.3 billion limit applies to IPv4. But IPv6, approved in 1998 — IPv5 never caught on — allows for a mind-boggling increase in addresses to 340 undecillion, or 340 followed by 36 zeroes, enough to assign an IP address to every atom on Earth.

Facebook, for example, moved 90 percent of its network from the old IPv4 system to the next-generation IPv6, which offers a much larger number of addresses. The upgrade, however, is not cheap.

Read more from The Wall Street Journal.