While IPv4 offers 4.3 billion addresses, IPv6 offers around 340 undecillion addresses.
The remaining pool of IPv4 addresses has been exhausted, necessitating a move to the IPv6 standard.
The Internet Architecture Board (IAB) advised partner standards development organisations and organisations that the pool of unassigned addresses had been exhausted, after discussions in the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).
The IAB said that networking standards would now need to fully support IPv6.
The board said that it was important that environments are now capable of operating completely on IPv6 without being dependent on IPv4.
Since every device that is connected to the internet requires a unique IP, depletion means internet service providers will have to trade or lease addresses to allow new customers to connect to the internet, until another method of allocating addresses is achieved.
Currently IPv4 addresses are being rationed by Regional Internet Registry for Europe (RIPE) and the most that can be provided to a single applicant is a /22, which is 1024 addresses.
While some ISPs have been using an alternative IPv4 sharing technique called Carrier Grade NAT (CGN), by which an IPv4 address is assigned to a network or site and then shared between end-points, the new standard, IPv6 will provide a long-term solution. While IPv4 offers 4.3 billion addresses, IPv6 offers around 340 undecillion addresses.
Having more IP addresses to allocate will be essentially for provisioning Internet of Things devices.
In November, largest fixed broadband provider BT said that it had completed the roll-out of the IPv6 internet protocol across its broadband network in October. All its broadband lines now support IPv6 when a compatible router is used. This met BT’s deadline of December 2016.
Sky, the second largest, completed its roll-out in September 2016, becoming the first major UK vendor to do so. Sky won The Jim Bound IPv6 Award for driving IPv6 adoption in the industry.