Will the Internet crash in 2012?

Matt Ford posted a story yesterday to CNN about the Internet running out of IP addresses and that there will be no new IP addresses for anyone to use after 2012, or as soon as September 2011.  This story is reported as if it is ‘new’ news, but this is an old story, as Matt probably well knows.  Many have sounded this warning before, but is it for real this time?

The warning goes like this:

“As early as Z date, no new devices will be able to connect to the Internet unless we do something. Beyond Y date, only new devices will be allowed to get new IP addresses”.

The Internet has been running out of IP addresses for some time.  According to the alarmists,  nobody will be able to Facebook, friend someone, play Farmville, get their YouTube on, tweet or follow, explore MySpace or Hulu when the IP addresses run out.  Not true, but it makes a good scary bedtime story:  “Let Mommy tell you about the day the Internet crashed and we had to, like, talk to one another”.

The real story is that we have been running out of Internet Protocol (IP) addresses for quite some time.  Like the Earth’s environment, time is running out for the Internet (if SPAM, viruses and  haven’t polluted the Internet completely by then).  The term used by us geeks for the problem is IP Address Exhaustion.  No, Internet Protocol Addresses are not getting tired–the number of available, unused public Internet IP addresses is dwindling towards the point where there are none left. But we’ve been warned about this repeatedly since the mid-90’s.  I’m not sure why Matt sees this as some ‘new’ problem, when it is so last century!

So what’s the big deal, anyway?

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