IPv4.5 – A New Solution to Internet Address Limits

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The last remaining IPv4 address will be issued on April 1, 2011. The Internet is now full and it’s unable to cater for additional users. Internet Protocol version 4 is the widely-adopted standards-based addressing system on which the net depends. Every server, PC, tablet and web-enabled mobile phone is assigned a unique 4-byte address which allows two devices to communicate with each other. You can view your own IP address at whatsmyip.net. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Technology (ICANT) is the organization responsible for managing and distributing IPv4 addresses. Although IPv4 permits more than 4 billion addresses, there are 7 billion people on the planet and many of us own more than one net device. IPv6 will eventually solve the issue since it offers 3.4 x 1038 unique addresses. But deployment has been slow — the majority of users still rely on IPv4 and businesses are unwilling to invest in new technology during an economic downturn. Fortunately, Professor Michael Rapp has devised a novel solution. IPv4.5 is launched today and will allocate addresses on a timeshare basis. Rapp explains further:

IPv4.5 relies on the Earth’s rotation and web usage patterns. Each IP address will be assigned to two users at polar opposite points on the globe. If you’re accessing the web at 2pm local time, you will have priority over a someone on the other side of the world accessing at 2am. Therefore, a US-based user is likely to be sharing their unique IP with someone in China. In effect, this will double the IPv4 address space without requiring expensive new hardware or system upgrades.
SitePoint was fortunate to obtain an interview with Mike. SitePoint: How will IPv4.5 work? IPv4.5 diagram MR: At the heart of the system is a address prioritization server which directs data packets to the correct device. If the two devices are in use, the server may send data to both and the receiving application or web browser will determine whether it’s required. Errors are returned so our system can adapt to changing traffic patterns and will become more accurate over time. SP: Will IPv4.5 restrict bandwidth? MR: A little, but it’ll only be noticeable if you’re using the internet at night. The impact will be minimized because those users are typically playing games, perusing Facebook, tweeting about insomnia or indulging in other frivolous activities. SP: Does this solution pose security or privacy risks?
MR: Data packets will inevitably be distributed to the wrong device. However, the risk that someone would receive data in a language they can understand is negligible. SP: What about English speakers in the UK and Australia? MR: A small number of geographic anomalies are certain to arise. Fortunately, cultural differences will overcome language similarities: it’s unlikely that either party will understand the other. Alternatively, there may be political solutions to the problem. For example, UK residents could adopt French as their native language. Or Australia could become fully governed by the UK so security issues become irrelevant. It’s a win-win situation — everyone would be happy. SP: Would some parts of the world have a geographical advantage? MR: Yes. Several countries have an ocean at their polar opposite so they will not experience the timeshare effects of IPv4.5. For this reason, many web-based companies are relocating their staff to northern Africa and the Middle East. SP: Is IPv4.5 a replacement for IPv6? MR: No — it’s a interim solution until IPv6 has widespread adoption. That said, we’re starting implementation today and we all know that temporary IT solutions often last far longer than intended… What do you think about IPv4.5? Is it a viable solution to IPv4 addressing limitations? Do the security risks concern you? Have you noticed a bandwidth reduction? All comments welcome.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about IP4 Address Limit Solution

What is the main reason for the exhaustion of IPv4 addresses?

The primary reason for the exhaustion of IPv4 addresses is the rapid growth of the internet. When IPv4 was first developed, it was designed to accommodate approximately 4.3 billion unique addresses. However, with the proliferation of internet-connected devices, including smartphones, tablets, and IoT devices, the demand for unique IP addresses has far exceeded the supply. This has led to the exhaustion of IPv4 addresses.

How does the IP4 address limit affect internet users?

The IP4 address limit can potentially affect internet users in several ways. For instance, it could lead to increased costs for obtaining IP addresses, as the scarcity of available addresses drives up prices. It could also lead to difficulties in connecting new devices to the internet, as there may not be enough unique addresses available.

What are some of the solutions to the IPv4 address exhaustion problem?

There are several potential solutions to the IPv4 address exhaustion problem. One of the most commonly proposed solutions is the transition to IPv6, which offers a vastly larger number of unique addresses. Other solutions include the use of Network Address Translation (NAT) to allow multiple devices to share a single IP address, and the recycling of unused IPv4 addresses.

What is IPv6 and how does it solve the IP4 address limit problem?

IPv6 is the next generation of the Internet Protocol, designed to replace IPv4. It uses a 128-bit address space, compared to the 32-bit address space of IPv4. This allows for a virtually unlimited number of unique IP addresses, effectively solving the IP4 address limit problem.

What is Network Address Translation (NAT) and how does it help in addressing the IP4 limit issue?

Network Address Translation (NAT) is a method of remapping one IP address space into another. It allows multiple devices to share a single IP address, effectively multiplying the number of devices that can be connected to the internet using the existing IPv4 address space. This can help alleviate the IP4 limit issue, at least in the short term.

How can unused IPv4 addresses be recycled?

Unused IPv4 addresses can be recycled through a process known as renumbering. This involves reassigning unused addresses to new devices or networks. However, this process can be complex and time-consuming, and it may not be a viable long-term solution to the IP4 address limit problem.

What are the challenges in transitioning from IPv4 to IPv6?

The transition from IPv4 to IPv6 presents several challenges. These include the need for new hardware and software, the potential for compatibility issues between IPv4 and IPv6 devices, and the need for extensive testing to ensure that the transition does not disrupt existing services.

Are there any alternatives to IPv6 for solving the IP4 address limit problem?

While IPv6 is the most commonly proposed solution to the IP4 address limit problem, there are other potential solutions. These include the use of NAT, as mentioned above, as well as the development of new protocols that could potentially offer more efficient use of the existing IP address space.

How long will it take for the transition to IPv6 to be completed?

The transition to IPv6 is a complex process that will likely take many years to complete. The exact timeline will depend on a variety of factors, including the rate of adoption of IPv6 by internet service providers and end users, and the availability of IPv6-compatible hardware and software.

What can individual internet users do to help alleviate the IP4 address limit problem?

Individual internet users can help alleviate the IP4 address limit problem by supporting the transition to IPv6. This could involve upgrading their own devices and networks to be IPv6-compatible, and advocating for the adoption of IPv6 by their internet service providers.

Craig BucklerCraig Buckler
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Craig is a freelance UK web consultant who built his first page for IE2.0 in 1995. Since that time he's been advocating standards, accessibility, and best-practice HTML5 techniques. He's created enterprise specifications, websites and online applications for companies and organisations including the UK Parliament, the European Parliament, the Department of Energy & Climate Change, Microsoft, and more. He's written more than 1,000 articles for SitePoint and you can find him @craigbuckler.

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