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Global Internet Connected Devices Break the 5 Billion Mark as IPv4 Runs Low

Posted: 17th Aug, 2010 By: MarkJ
internet statisticsIt's impossible to imagine but IMS Research has claimed that by the end of August 2010 the world will be home to 5 BILLION Internet connected devices. This includes personal computers, phones, ebook readers, bank atm machines, smart fridges and iPad's; just a small selection of the devices that go online each day from various locations around the globe.

However that figure is expected to be dwarfed by the 22 BILLION internet connected devices predicted to go online by 2020! It's easy to see how the remaining stock of IPv4 addresses, which are assigned to your computer/device each time you go online (e.g. 84.23.56.98), will end up being completely depleted by mid-2011.

IMS Research’s President, Ian Weightman, said:

"In the first connectivity wave, the bulk of devices connected to the Internet were PCs and laptops plus their associated modem and networking equipment. Today, over 1 billion [personal] computers worldwide are regularly connected to the Internet, and this number is growing steadily.

There will be a number of drivers behind this amazing growth. Firstly, by 2020 we are forecasting that there will be over 6 billion cell phones in use around the world, the great majority of which will be Internet connected.

Then consider that there are around 2.5 billion TVs in use today, and that many of these will be replaced with Internet connected sets, you have another tremendous growth area. In addition, an increasing proportion of the world’s 1.1 billion cars will be replaced by models that have Internet connectivity

The potential for greatest growth comes from the third wave which will include machine-to-machine (M2M) deployments. This has the potential to go way beyond industrial applications to encompass increasingly sophisticated smart grids, networked security cameras and sensors, connected home appliances and HVAC equipment, ITS infrastructure, etc."

The research is somewhat supported by a separate study from Cisco in June 2010 (here), which predicted that global internet data traffic would exceed 767 Exabytes by 2014, which compares with an annual run rate of 176 Exabytes in 2009 when IP traffic grew by 45% in the year.

As for the eventual depletion of IPv4 addresses, the tech chief of business ISP Timico UK (Trefor Davies) has today suggested that related addresses could potentially run out by February 2011 and not June 2011 as some estimates had claimed.

Trefor Davies commented (blog):

"Whilst I was on holiday the IPv4 Exhaustion counter ticked down another digit to 5% or 14 /8 blocks .
Nov 16 2009 10% – dropped through 400,000,000 mark
Jan 20th 9%
Feb 25th 8%
May 10th 7%
June 2nd 6%
August 5%
Currently we seem to be using a /8 block every three weeks. With 9 blocks left before we are down to the last 5 (at which point IANA will distribute these simultaneously to the 5 Regional Internet Registries) it looks like we have 27 weeks to go to IPv4 Exhaustion. In my book this is February 2011 and not the June date reported by the Exhaustion Counter."

Presently IPv4, used since 1984, provides around 4.5 billion addresses, of which only about 225 million remain free and available for new connections. IPv4 addresses are slowly being replaced by IPv6 (e.g. 2ffe:1800:3525:3:200:f8ff:fe21:67cf), which are more secure, 128bits long and written in hexadecimal.

Sadly some UK ISPs still do not provide full support for native IPv6 and many consumer grade routers lack the necessary update to work properly with it. ISPs who fail to adapt will of course find ways to circumvent the problem, which could lead to IPv4 address sharing and a few headaches, not to mention the potential detriment to performance.
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