By Chafic Chaya, regional communications manager, RIPE NCC
A global shortage of unused IPv4 addresses is a serious problem affecting the internet today. We generally don’t think about it when we look at our smartphones or computers, but these devices rely on a massive communications infrastructure that depends on a system of globally unique addresses. Computers need to know which device or webserver we’re asking them to connect to, and routers need to know where to forward the data traffic that crosses a network. This crucial role of signifying a unique destination for internet traffic is performed by IP addresses.