Well its has happened the pool of Internet addresses in Europe has now run out. The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), who issues Internet addresses worldwide has admitted that they have now run out of Internet addresses in Europe. Does this mean that anyone living in Europe will no longer be able to get an Internet Address? This is possible.
All Internet addresses are issued with a unique IP number that are affixed to each users Internet address and this is what they have run out of. The (IANA) has five regional Internet registries (RIR), each of these regional offices assign to the end user like Internet service providers(Bell,Vidiotron Rogers etc) a block of addresses that they can pass onto there users (people like you or me) in order for the end user to connect to the Internet. Europe is not alone as other parts of the world have already exhausted their “IPv4“ allocations and the remaining areas are expected to run out within the next few years.
The World Regional Internet registry map
What does this mean
If an Internet server provider (ISPs) is still using the old system of (IPv4) they will not be able to issue an IP Address to an individual. This will effect many Internet Server Providers around the world and with the stampede of ISPS trying to get around this problem by using a new system (the IPv6) many end users (like you and me) could in theory be left out in the cold.
What caused this problem
Throughout the world there are millions of households but in the early days of the Internet in the 1990‘s, only a small fraction of these had Internet connectivity. Fast forward to 2005 and we find that almost half of them now have a permanent broadband connection. Couple this with the many new users in places like China and India and we have a depletion problem.
What can be done
In the beginning large blocks of IP numbers were given to large organizations but it is known that many of these blocks are now unused so it is proposed to forcibly reclaim these blocks to postpone the depletion date.This however is just a sticking plaster fix as it would only extend the depletion date for a couple of years and it has been admitted that some large organizations would object to this and threaten legal action. It is also known that many IP addresses are no longer used (people have passed away etc), so the organization could and would reclaim these IP addresses and re issue. There is though a major problem with this there has never in the history of the Internet been an accounting of IP address location so tracking these unused IP addresses would be very hard.
Does this mean the end of the Internet? I don’t think so but until they come up with a solution and that they are working on now (the new IPv6 system) at the very least interruptions to your’s and everyone else’s Internet connection can be expected over the next few years.