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The Rise and Rise of Internet Devices: Cisco, IPv6, and Beyond

Published on June 2, 2011
Tags: Web Design London, Internet Communication

We have written before about the rapid growth of the internet and the fact it is predicted to become much more popular over the coming years. This has become that much clearer now that technology giant Cisco has released the results of a study into current and future internet use. They predict that by 2015, the number of internet-capable devices will outnumber humans 2:1.

To put that into perspective, it essentially means that within four years, there will be roughly 15 billion internet ready machines on planet Earth. Despite so many devices, it is predicted that around three billion people will be connected to the internet – around 40% of the world’s population, meaning that people who have internet access will be more likely than ever before to own more than one internet-capable device.

This raises both plus points and negatives. To start with the good things, it is obviously fairly positive for anyone who relies on the internet for their livelihood. Web designers, copywriters, online businesses and more look set to be kept in decent business over the years to come as more people start to use the World Wide Web and the number of websites proliferates. It’s most likely good news for the majority of web users too, as with more people coming online, you’d hope that there’d be a corresponding improvement in internet-capable machines.

There are some potential problems that come out of these developments as well, though. Cisco says that online traffic is set to quadruple, which is only going to exacerbate current issues with the web. One of these issues relates to IP addresses. You are probably aware that your laptop, tablet PC or other internet device has one of these IP addresses (or, more specifically, and IPv4 address). This is what identifies them so they can send and receive data online.

When the IPv4 system was created back in the 1970s, there were around 4.3 billion addresses created. Of course, back then, that was plenty, but no one predicted just how many web devices would be around in the future. IP addresses are allocated by the Internet Assigned Names Authority and, in February 2011, they gave out the last batch of the current addresses. It’s thought they could all be distributed as early as August.

Luckily, there is an updated version of the IP address, known as IPv6, but just as it has been a struggle to get web users away from out-dated technology such as the IE6 web browser, it has also been hard to get companies to adopt the new IPv6 system. The new system offers trillions of addresses, but the rush to adopt it hasn’t been quite as efficient as the IANA might have hoped. The good news is that there is a world testing day for IPv6 on 8th June so progress should be made fairly soon, but unless swift action is taken, web users might find themselves in possession of web-ready devices that can’t actually connect to the web.

Another interesting fact raised by the Cisco report is that by 2015, the average US resident will own seven web connected devices. Also, by 2015, tablet computers are expected to account for around 6% of all web traffic, which means that they will be responsible for more traffic than was handled by all web-connected devices in 2006. Every second in 2015, 1 million minutes worth of online videos will also be streamed online – this is predicted to be one of the biggest, if not the biggest, growth areas for the internet. Wi-Fi is also expected to be more prominent than fixed broadband within the next 5 years and by 2015, web traffic will measure at 966 exabytes.

These are figures that even a few years ago would have seemed staggering. Like when money starts to roll into the trillions, it begins to get harder to imagine exactly what it looks like, but it seems safe to say it’s fairly easy to imagine the enormity of this growth. The infrastructure of the web needs to be updated – and fast, to avoid users being unable to get online with their devices.

Well. They say that it often takes an impending crisis for decisive action to be taken, so we hope that the distribution of the last IPv4 addresses in the coming months provides the wake-up call that it is increasingly clear is needed.

By Chelsey Evans

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