The world is at the risk of running out of web addresses in the next two years if business and government organizations do not switch to another level of naming protocol, web experts have warned. A European Commission survey found that few companies are prepared for the switch from the current naming protocol, IPv4, to the new regime, IPv6. But unless more companies migrate to the new platform, there is an apparent risk of running out of internet addresses within the next two years. “We’ll be down to our last tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of web addresses by the end of next year,” The Telegraph quoted Sam Pickles, lead enterprise engineer of F5 Networks, as saying. “New companies looking to establish a presence on the internet will have no option but to adopt the IPv6 address format. Many government and military organisations worldwide have adopted IPv6 for their internal systems already, and its adoption by companies, and eventually home users, is virtually certain,” he added.

The IPv4 and IPv6 protocols refer to the way in which web addresses are created and assigned. While the IPv4 protocol uses 32-bit addresses, which enables the web to support around 4.3 billion unique addresses, the IPv6 uses 128-bit web addresses, creating billions of possible new web addresses.

According to the EC survey, just 17 percent of the 610 government, educational and other industry organisations questioned across Europe, the Middle East and Asia, have upgraded to IPv6. Detlef Eckert, a director in the Commission’s information society, said: “Only by ensuring that all devices connected to the internet are compatible with IPv6 can we stay connected and safeguard sustainable growth of the internet and the global digital economy, now and in the years to come.”

More In: Internet | Technology