According to experts, the nearly 4.5 billion current addresses aren't enough, only six percent of available addresses are left, and the Internet will run out of addresses by sometime late next year. Three main factors are behind the upcoming shortage. One is the explosion in web access from multiple devices for each user, primarily in developed countries. Each of those smartphones, laptops, tablets, desktops and other devices that access the web require a different IP, or Internet protocol, address. And the demand for device addresses is increasing rapidly, with TVs, game consoles, even automobiles offering web-browsing capability.
A second factor is a rapidly growing user base in developing countries, such as Brazil, India or China. And, third, the Internet is becoming the communications network Relevant Products/Services for non-user-based equipment, such as smart electricity grids, sensors, RFIDs and smart houses.
Some experts say IPv6 could provide four billion addresses for each person on Earth. In addition to zillions of new addresses, IPv6 brings other improvements, including in routing, network auto-configuration, and better handling of 3G mobile networks.
Some government agencies and businesses in Europe and Asia have started to use IPv6 and Verizon, Comcast and some other large telecommunications companies have announced IPv6 trials. Until IPv6 is fully implemented, there are stopgaps, such as network address translation (NAT), which reduces the number of unique IP addresses needed by mapping multiple addresses to a single one.