Internet address warehouse empty

The global warehouse for Internet addresses ran empty on Thursday.

The non-profit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) doled out its last five batches of "IP" numbers that identify destinations for digital traffic.

"A pool of more than four billion Internet addresses has been emptied this morning," ICANN chief Rod Beckstrom said at a Miami press conference. "It is completely depleted. There are no more."

He brushed aside fears of Internet life being devastated by an "IPocalypse," saying that regional centers worldwide will be doling out the remaining addresses to support a shift to a bountiful new "IPv6" format.

"It is like running out of license plates," said Internet Architecture Board chairman Olaf Kolkman. "Driving on the road the next day would not change."

The touted solution to the problem is a switch to an "IPv6" format which allows trillions of Internet addresses, while the current IPv4 standard provides a meager four billion or so.

The effort and expense of changing to IPv6 would fall mostly on Internet service providers, websites and network operators that have to make sure systems can handle the new online addresses and properly route traffic.

Consumers, for the most part, shouldn't notice the switch since complex IP numbers would still appear to them as words and domains, such as

Some people might need to update routers or modems that connect computers to the Internet.