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The internet has (kind of) run out of space

(CNN) -- On Thursday, the internet as we know it ran out of space.

The nonprofit group that assigns addresses to service providers announced that, on Thursday morning, it allocated the last free internet addresses available from the current pool used for most of the internet's history.

"This is an historic day in the history of the internet, and one we have been anticipating for quite some time," said Raul Echeberria, chairman of the Number Resource Organization.

But fear not. The group has seen this coming for more than a decade and is ready with a new pool of addresses that it expects to last, well, forever. John Curran, CEO of the American Registry for Internet Numbers, said the old pool of Internet Protocol addresses had about 4.3 billion addresses.

"A billion sounds like a lot," Curran said Thursday morning. "But when you think that there's nearly 7 billion people on the planet, and you're talking about two, three, four, five addresses per person (for some Web users), obviously 4.3 billion isn't enough." The new pool, which has technically been ready since 1999, has so many IP addresses that most non-mathematicians probably don't even know the number exists -- 340 undecillion.

That's 340 trillion groups of one trillion networks each. Each network can handle a trillion devices. If the current pool were the size of a golf ball, the new one would be the size of the sun. More...

02-03-2011 19:02