PARIS: The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development warned on Thursday that the finite supply of internet addresses is fast depleting and will run-out within three years if present trends continue.

As of this month, nearly 85% of available internet addresses are in use, and the OECD warns that governments and businesses alike must prepare for the move from the current Internet Protocol version 4 to Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6).

The upgrade, says the OECD, should not be seen as a financial burden but as a commercial and social opportunity.

The US administration has set June 2008 as the deadline by which the internet network of every government agency must be IPv6 compatible; the European Commission, meantime, is funding research projects and examining ways to hasten implementation.

WARC News' editor sought the opinion of his favourite technical genius [who is otherwise quite human during the hours of daylight]. He was dismissive of the IPv6 brouhaha.

"It's not really an issue at all to be honest," he opined. "IPv6 has been available for years and if you're using something like Windows 2003 or Vista you have IPv6 functionality built-in.

"All websites can run from host headers now and that does indeed ease the burden. What [the changes] will affect most are academic institutions which own millions of addresses; these are the people who will need to update their system to liberate some IP4 addresses."

The full OECD report can be downloaded by clicking here.

Data sourced from OECD; additional content by WARC staff