Colleges could profit as internet runs out of addresses

Technology experts have been preparing for the depletion of IPv4 addresses since the 1990s.

The internet is running out of numerical addresses – known as IP addresses – and that might not be so bad for colleges and universities prepared for the transition to the next web protocol, as campuses could sell their current IP addresses and help fill budget shortfalls prevalent in higher education.

The spread of internet use in Asia and the proliferation of internet-connected phones worldwide are causing the internet to run out of numerical addresses, which act as “phone numbers” to ensure that surfers reach websites and eMails find their destination.

The top-level authority that governs such addresses will distribute the last batches on Feb. 3, two people with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press.

Campus technologists and internet policy experts said the switch from the current IPv4 to the next generation of IP addresses – IPv6 – has been closely tracked since the mid-1990s.

Higher education has been “earlier on the IPv6 adoptions curve” than many in the business world, said Ed Horley, co-chair of the California IPv6 Task Force, which has raised awareness of the transition from the depleting number of IPv4 addresses and offered strategies for switching to IPv6.

Moving away from IPv4 to IPv6 could become profitable for colleges and universities that have had to trim operation budgets in recent years, he said.

“Some may even capitalize on the IPv4 depletion problem and sell portions of their existing IPv4 address space they aren’t using to help with revenue shortfalls,” Horley said.

Many colleges are prepared for the switch, he said, although most campuses that have already enabled IPv6 for student use are in Canada, Asia, and Europe.

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