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Could IP exhaustion drive up the cost of hosting?

egypt desert
IP exhaustion, or the increasing scarcity of the IPv4 addresses needed for the web to function, has been a problem for quite some time. ISPs are being pushed to move to IPv6, but thus far few have budged. As things currently stand, the current supply of IP addresses is slated to dry up by 2011.

What does that mean for you? Online news site bMighty.com posted an insightful article on that topic yesterday.

The consensus is that since large blocks of addresses are owned by registries around the world, some places will run out before others. A good many server users need dedicated IPs to run, and as addresses become harder and harder to come by, those providers with IPs still left to distribute could jack up prices. The operating costs for hosts will go up, too, and no doubt they will pass this expense onto their customers. Meanwhile, those of us requiring dedicated IPs for our web server software to function will end up in price wars trying to snag the few addresses left.

According to the article, even if we began switching to IPv6 in earnest now, IPv4 addresses will run out before a complete transition can be made. An “IP crunch” is inevitable. Right now hosts hand out IPs like they grow on trees. When I rented a dedicated server a few years ago, my provider didn’t hesitate to give me nearly a dozen IP addresses without question when I asked. I think these hosts will be the first to feel the bite, while those companies that have been more conservative in their address allocation will be better off.

What can you do? If you already have a server with the number of IPs you need, keep it. How easily does your host give out IPs? If it’s like my old host, you may be in trouble. Try to find a provider that is always hesitant to hand out addresses, as it will probably have more saved up than others.

Photo | Flickr

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