This is a rather straightforward question all of us are asked. And most of us can give a quick and accurate answer, something like “our address is 3240 Maple Leaf Lane.” Obviously, this question and answer refers to our home or business address.
Now, what if you were asked: “what is your home Internet address?” Some might reply: “do you mean my email address?” But what if the reply was: “no, the address of your home computer on the Internet.” I can confidently tell you that 99.9% of everyone you know would reply “I have no clue, I didn’t even know that my home computer had an address.”
Guess what, it does! It’s something like “074.125.239.091”. I’m going to keep the explanation simple, because there is a little bit more to it than that, and because anyone who has a router at home actually has two addresses (one to the outside world and one inside the house). The example given above is an “outside to the world” address belonging to Google. You have an address at home that is just like Google’s address above. It’s just four different sets of three numbers. This address is known to tech pros as IPv4 address. That stands for “Internet Protocol Version 4.”
The good news is that you don’t need to know what your address is because your computer equipment handles that for you. However, sometimes we computer techs do need to know in order to troubleshoot a problem or install a new piece of equipment for you.
IPv4 allows for about 4 Billion unique addresses. This is the number of different combinations available using 4 sets of 3 numbers. When the folks who invented IPv4 decided on that number, they thought “4 Billion addresses, how will we ever need more than that?”
Ah, but that was before everyone had a cell phone that needed to get on the Internet and before everyone had multiple computers, let alone tablet computers. Every Internet connected device on the planet must have a unique address. So, (you know what’s coming next) all of the 4 Billion IPv4 addresses have been assigned! But! Never fear, a nerd is near!
The folks who manage these things came up with IPv6, which stands for “Internet Protocol Version 6.” (What happened to version 5?) And, here is the good news: Once version 6 of our Internet Addresses Scheme has been fully implemented we will have 3.4×10 to the 38th power unique addresses at our disposal! That’s because IPv6 is made up of eight groups of four hexadecimal digits. Hexadecimal is the numbers 0 thru 9 and the letters A thru F. An example is “2001:0db8:85a3:0042:1000:8a2e:0370:7334. Are you asking yourself: “What is 3.4×10 to the 38th power?”
There are 340 trillion, trillion, trillion (undecillion) addresses in IPv6. That’s 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456 IPv6 addresses. That is 48,909,254,989,728,775,223,940,766,262 addresses per person on the planet!
Conclusion: Go ahead and get another device that needs to get on the Internet. The guys and gals in charge have you covered. Frankly, I think they wanted to cover the future including the United Federation of Planets, in case we get there. (That’s a Star Trek reference. Live long and prosper!)
January 12th, 2014