IP addresses provide a way to create a connection between the devices and the internet. All the devices need to have an IP address to go online. At present, there are more than 4.66 billion active internet users.
It pops the question: can the internet ever run out of IP addresses? Firstly, we want to highlight the fact that we already ran out of IPv4 internet addresses in 2019. As a result, there will be no IPv4 internet addresses ever. Let us now dive deeper into the issue.
We Have Run Out Of IPv4 Addresses
IPv4 was created back in the 1980s. It was then that the internet was booming on an exponential scale. It uses 32-bit numbers to provide the users with IP addresses. It was usually written in the dot-decimal notation. The combination of the same ensured the availability of 4.3 billion IP addresses worldwide. The amount of IP addresses that IPv4 provided was sufficient to last for decades. However, it has now run out, but it does not mean that we have actually run out of IP connection. In 2019, RIPE NCC, which takes care of the global internet resources, distributed all the remaining IPv4 addresses. Surprisingly, the internet connection is still happening for the new devices. How is this possible?
IPv6 Is Still There
Currently, the world is running on IPv6 connections. The development of the same happened in the 1990s, and it was finally launched in 2012. Contrary to IPv4 addresses, the IPv6 is 128 bits long. As a result, there is an availability of 340 undecillion IP addresses. If we try to decode it, the number comes close to 340, followed by 36 zeros. This number is big enough to last for a long time. It answers the question that the internet will never run out of IP addresses.
Use What Is My IP to check whether your IP address is running on IPv4 or IPv6 address. Also, if we ever run off IP addresses, it is possible to create more IP addresses. As pointed out above, after we exhausted IPv4 connections, IPv6 connections took over. We can expect similar development in the future if we ever run out of IP addresses again. However, we do not need to worry about it now. It is because there are nearly eight billion in the earth, and IPv6 is here to support trillions of internet connections. According to the Internet Society, we might never run out of IPv6 addresses.
Can Devices Share The Same IP Addresses?
We now know that each device needs an IP address to go online. Another fact is that public IP addresses are a limited resource. Therefore, yes, devices can use the same IP address. Things will be extremely complicated if each device is provided with a new IP address. All the new computers, smartphones, tablets, and gaming consoles will need a new IP address. To solve the issue, a single IP address is usually provided to all the devices. However, as pointed out by Ben Stegner, sharing the same IP addresses sometimes results into IP Address conflict.
Public IP addresses can be saved for multiple devices. The router, which usually connects different devices to the internet, is assigned a public IP address. All devices connected with the same router will share the public IP address. However, all the connected devices will further be assigned with a local IP address. The router automatically assigns the local IP addresses to the devices. The public IP address is different from the private IP addresses of the different devices.
There Will Always Be Enough Space
Ipv4 has 32 numbers long, and now, IPv6 is 128 numbers long. Even though the internet is expanding, there will always be enough space for more IP addresses. Even though the new devices and routers connections are now assigned IPv6 addresses, we also prominently use IPv4 addresses. Any internet connection created before 2019 and is still running most probably is running in the old version 4. Replacement of the same will take a long time. Furthermore, it is possible to redirect multiple devices to a single IP address. Therefore, it is safe to say that there will always be enough IP addresses to meet the expansion of the internet connection.
Even now, IPv4 is the most popular IP address. It is because switching to an IPv6 connection is expensive. The devices and equipment need to be specially designed for IPv6 connections. However, with new devices rolling out that are creating new internet connections, IPv6 will replace the popularity of IPv4 addresses.