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The world is about to run out of the internet addresses that allow computers to identify each other and communicate, the man who invented the system has told The Times.
Vint Cerf, the “father of the internet” and one of the world’s leading computer scientists, said that businesses and consumers needed to act now to switch to the next generation of net addresses. Unless preparations were made now, he said, some computers might not be able to go online and the connectivity of the internet might be damaged.
Mr Cerf said that internet service providers in particular needed to prepare and that time was running out for a smooth transition.
A new system, called IPv6, has been ready for implementation for more than a decade.
Under IPv6, each address has 128 bits and so provides 340 trillion, trillion, trillion different addresses - that is 340,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. It is assumed that this will meet humanity’s needs for decades to come.