It's true ladies and gentlemen - around 4 AM on February 2nd, the Internet will run out of its current version of IP addresses, dubbed IPv4. The numbers are coming from an Internet Service Provider who believes the rate is about one million addresses every four hours. One company has launched a Twitter account and a Facebook page, counting down to what they call the "IPcalypse."
Before we continue, let's give you a background on what IP addresses are. Every device that is connected to the Internet receives an IP (Internet Protocol) address which basically identifies your device and allows you to browse the Internet. The current version of IP addresses, IPv4, supports about 4 billion addresses.
Thankfully, another system of IP addresses has been under development, dubbed IPv6. IPv6 uses both numbers and letters to create 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456 (which translates into "a lot") addresses. With that number of possible addresses, Internet-connected devices should be good for an extremely long time.
So, what's everyone waiting for - why doesn't the Internet just convert to IPv6 addresses now? The main issue is because of compatibility issues that will occur with devices connected to the Internet, as well as websites. Sites like Google and Facebook earlier this month announced that later this year, for one day, they will switch over to the IPv6 protocol to both test their infrastructures for when the actual switch will happen and to see how many users will be affected by the move.
As of writing this article, there are under forty million IPv4 addresses left for use.