The IPocalypse is nigh! Internet real estate will become a precious commodity this week, when the International Assigned Numbers Authority releases its last IP addresses—the numbers devices use to identify themselves on the Internet. How big a deal is that? Well, the Wall Street Journal likens it to "telephone companies running out of numbers to give customers"—but we’re not quite there yet. IANA just gives the numbers to regional registries, who in turn distribute them to your local Internet provider.
It’s unclear how soon the shortage will actually affect customers. “Some service providers may exhaust their IPv4 addresses within 3 to 6 months,” one software engineer tells CNET, while others may take much longer. Don’t worry too much: In June, Google, Facebook, Yahoo, and others will all run a one-day test of a new system, dubbed IPv6, that should eventually replace the old one, offering nigh-unlimited space. Click here for more on the IP shortage.