Lurking in the depths of the internet is a problem. A problem so large that it is going to cost billions to fix. It will effect every device connected to the internet without exception. Every cell phone, every game console, every computer, every router/modem, EVERYTHING. And it is a secret. Well, not really a secret, just not something anyone talks about.

The problem is the language that the internet speaks, is running out of unique names. Specifically, the IPv4 address space is running out of unassigned addresses. The simply version of why this is a problem is no new websites will be able to be online. It is a lot more complicated than that and will even impact users to a degree, but that is for a different article.

This is where the 600 days comes in. By the estimates of the people who are able to do estimates, the currently unused addresses will run out in about 600 days as of the beginning of 2010. As that day approaches, you can expect all sorts of shenanigans regarding pricing and allocation decisions. It will become much much more difficult and costly to setup your own website/service.

The good news is, there is a fix. The bad news is what I was saying in the beginning. It is going to be expensive as hell and it is going to impact a couple billion devices. The worst part is, you can’t even take steps to fix this yourself right now.

The answer is a new language. Internet Protocol Version 6 or IPv6. It solves the addressing problem for a VERY long time. The current version, IPv4, supports about 4.3 Billion addresses. This is represented by 32bits or 2^32nd. IPv6 supports 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456 addresses which is 128 bits or 2^128th. This post does a good job of expanding on what this means.

Because this is a new language, this means all of the devices have to be taught to speak it.  In the vast majority of cases, this is software and could be done for free.  The problem is if you are the manufacturer of such a device, why would you provide a free upgrade, when you could sell a new device?  This is further complicated, by the fact that essentially no one supports IPv6.  The deep insides of the internet do, but the majority of the pieces that are exposed on the internet, do not.  The biggest hurdle is most ISPs (Comcast, ATT, Verizon, Charter, Cable Vision, etc) don’t support IPv6 for their users.  Even if you could go buy replacement devices or upgrades to your equipment to support IPv6, you still don’t have access to the IPv6 Internet.

During the period of overlap when not everything speaks IPv6, we will run into problems of sites only being accessible from v4 or v6.  As time progresses that will go from overwhelmingly v4 to primarily v6 and this transition will take a very long time.  The general masses are going to learn more about networking than they wanted to know out of necessity.  Where did I put that number to tech support?

TL;DR; We have 600 days to make the Internet6 accessible.  After that, things start becoming REAL complicated, real quick.

Note:  This article is meant to build awareness not be complete or thurough.  There are large gloss-overs, simplifications and omissions to keep this from being a book.