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Europe has run out of IPv4 addresses

(Image credit: Image Credit: Atm2003 / Shutterstock)

European companies may need to evaluate their web hosting positions after the news broke that the continent has apparently run out of IPv4 addresses

Seven years after the concern was first raised, the RIPE Network Coordination Centre said it allocated the remaining IPv4 addresses available.

RIPE is a not-for-profit organisation responsible for the distribution of IP addresses, the 32-bit numbers used to identify devices connected to the internet.

This means that going forward, any new devices that need to connect to the internet in 76 countries in Europe, the Middle East and parts of Central Asia, will need to get in line. That line, according to RIPE’s press release, is only going to grow, with time. Annually, it will have a few thousand IP addresses to allocate, which it expects to be insufficient, as it believes there will be “many millions” required.

This raises the question of adopting IPv6 – the successor to IPv4. It seems to be quite the challenge, as it hasn’t been widely adopted and the majority of today’s internet runs on IPv4. RIPE believes operators may be forced to use “complex and expensive workarounds” or to adopt IPv6.  

“With IPv4 exhaustion, we risk heading into a future where the growth of our Internet is unnecessarily limited – not by a lack of skilled network engineers, technical equipment, or investment – but by a shortage of unique network identifiers. Therefore, we call on all stakeholders to play their role in supporting the roll-out of IPv6,” commented Nikolas Pediaditis, Registration Services and Policy Development Manager at the RIPE NCC.

According to RIPE, IPv4 scarcity is a cause for concern. Out of 4,161 network operators and stakeholders polled, a third considers IPv4 run-out as one of their main challenges.