The internet may soon run out of IP addresses as a result of the boom in web use and an increase in the number of mobile internet users.
According to a report by the BBC, experts predict that the last batch of internet addresses available under the current system, IP version 4, will in be use by 9 September 2011. Within the following year, those IPv4 net addresses will be exhausted.
Every device that's connected to the internet must be given an IP, or 'Internet Protocol' address, which identifies it to other computers. This enables browsers to be directed to the correct website, and ensures that data reaches the person to whom it's addressed.
The current IPv4 system provides a total of four billion addresses. Organisations and governments are now gearing up to implement IPv6, which will provide a further six trillion.
Managing director of internet registrar Ripe NCC, Axel Pawlik, told the BBC: “This whole business of forecasting depletion involves a little bit of reading the tea leaves. Ten years ago we said it would happen far in the future. Now we are all running around with iPhones, we're in that future.”