Internet runs out of 'phone numbers' for websites

February 1, 2011 5:16:31 PM PST
The Internet is running out of the numerical addresses that act as "phone numbers" to ensure that surfers reach websites and e-mails find their destination.

The top-level authority that governs such addresses will distribute the last batches on Thursday. That's according to two people with knowledge of the situation. They spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because a formal announcement isn't scheduled until Thursday.

The exhaustion of the conventional Internet "address space" means websites and Internet service providers have a lot of work ahead to switch to a new technology that allows for many more addresses - an infinite number, for all practical purposes.

If the transition moves slowly, it could mean problems for Web surfers reaching some websites, or inconsistent performance.