European IP registry RIPE NCC launched a new site today encouraging providers to switch to IPv6.
Called IPv6 Act Now, the website warns of IPv4 address depletion:
Right now, 88% of all IPv4 addresses have been allocated, and it is widely accepted that we will run out entirely by 2011. The technical community has been aware of this address shortage for many years, and has long recognised that a new protocol was required to meet future demand for unique Internet addresses. It was with this in mind that Internet Protocol version six (IPv6) was developed in the mid-90s.
This is after the Internet Association for Internet Numbers (ARIN) sent out a letter to web hosts earlier this month warning that unless the switch to IPv6 was made, IPv4 addresses would run out in two years. ARIN also introduced a new policy that makes it harder to obtain addresses on the older IP system.
The IP protocol forms the backbone of the web, providing datacenters with the IP addresses needed to route web traffic. Several versions of the system exist. The most commonly used, IPv4, has been in service since the 1980s. Due to the explosion of the Internet over the last twenty years, IPv4 addresses are being gobbled up at a rate much faster than web architects ever expected, ushering in the era of IPv6, which has a virtually infinite amount of addresses.
Last year, RIPE gave its European member states the goal of switching 25% of their web users to IPv6 by 2010. From 2006 to 2008, usage of the new IP system grew 300%.