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ICANN Decides To Expand Internet
By: Michael Lowry
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  • ICANN Decides To Expand Internet
  • Impending Doom
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    ICANN Decides To Expand Internet - Impending Doom

    (Page 2 of 4 )

    The decision to add new domain names does more than open up the domain industry; it also helps alleviate concerns that the Internet will run out of addresses thanks to an explosion of new devices over the past five years that connect to the Internet. In October 2007, ICANN estimated that only 17 percent of the original four billion network addresses remain under the current system, known as IPv4. They also predicted that the new address pool would be drained within the next five years.

    The Internet was originally designed to have each device on the network communicate via its own numerical address (IP address). Most users don't have to worry about remembering IP addresses in order to communicate with other computers because the domain name system (DNS) links their addresses with the corresponding site name, such as devshed.com. Moreover, a lot of mobile devices don't have individual IP addresses because they connect via a gateway that has a unique IP address and distributes private addresses behind it. NAT (Network Address Translation) is a similar technique that allows several computers to share one outside IP address with individual private addresses within its network. Both of these methods are considered inadequate when compared with the advantages of having a unique address.

    Right now, IP addresses are distributed by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) to the Regional Internet Registries (RIRs), which handle requests in different regions around the world. The RIRs then allocate them to ISPs, who make them available to their customers, and other users. ICANN simply coordinates the whole process. But with existing addresses on the verge of extinction, one of their main responsibilities has been finding a way to contain the situation until IPv6 is fully adopted.

    IPv6 is an update to the current system that would provide 340 trillion trillion trillion separate addresses (that's not a typo). But the transition has been slow to say the least, mostly because it needs to be compatible with IPv4 before a complete conversion can be made. And, of course, this isn't free. In the meantime, different measures have to be taken, like those agreed upon at the Paris conference, in order to hold off the inevitable.

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