Techies in the know are aware that the current IP address system, IPv4, will run out of addresses by early 2011. To avoid a cataclysmic event two years from now when people find they can’t get on the Internet, the need to switch to IPv6 is being chiseled into the foreheads of technology CEOs from San Jose to Shanghai.
Part of the reason why we’re running out of IP addresses much faster than analysts predicted is the proliferation of cell phone usage. Believe it or not, but mobile phones use the same IP addresses our computers do to get online and make phone calls. In fact, there are more mobile subscribers than computer owners. With cell phone ownership expected to reach 5.2 billion by 2011, a huge stain has already been placed on the teetering IPv4 system.
Thankfully, mobile providers are starting to step in and do something about the problem. Verizon announced recently that it will require phones on its new LTE (Long Term Evolution) network to support IPv6.
LTE promises faster speeds and greater efficiency then current mobile network technology. It will be deployed over the next few years by all major carriers.
But should Verizon be applauded for its decision? Absolutely not. Truthfully, their decision to jump on the IPv6 bandwagon is too late to make much of a difference. By the time it starts freeing up IPv4 addresses with its new phones I expect most Internet providers will have made the switch to IPv6.