What is an IP address

An IP address is a unique set of characters that identify any device that is connected on the Internet.

Types of IP Addresses

There are two types of IP addresses namely IP version 4 (IPv4) and IP version 6 (IPv6). IPv4 addresses are the IP address we are currently using. IPv6 is the upcoming IP address version invented for reasons we will see later.

IPv4 IP Addresses

This is the first IP address version that has been in use since the invention of the Internet. Perhaps, it is the version your phone, tablet, or computer is using to connect you to the internet right now.

Technically, IPv4 address is defined as a 32-bit unique set of numbers that connect devices to the internet.

IPv4 IP Address Syntax

An IPv4 IP address is a 32-bit divided into 4 blocks of 8 bits each. Each of the 4 blocks is a decimal number that ranges between 0 and 255. The four blocks are then separated by a dot.

IPV4 IP Address Example

An example of an IPv4 address is 192.168.1.1. The four blocks, as we mentioned above, are 192, 168, 1, and 1. These are decimal numbers that we as a human can understand.

However, computers do not understand decimal numbers. They understand a binary number that is either 0 or 1. In that regard, the computer interprets each block into 8 binary bits.

Above imply that 4 blocks of 8 bits each totals 32 bits. This is the reason we have defined IPv4 IP address as a 32-bit.

IP V4 Address Classification

IP addresses are grouped in blocks referred to as the IP Address Classes. There are 5 IP classes as listed below.

CLASS A (1.0.0.1 – 126.255.255.254)

CLASS B (128.1.0.1 – 190.255.255.254)

CLASS C (192.1.1.1 – 223.255.255.254)

CLASS D (224.0.0.0 – 239.255.255.254)

CLASS E (240.0.0.0 – 254.255.255.254)

IPv4 Exhaustion

From binary, the total number of a 32 bit is 2 to power 32 = 4,294,967, 296. This means there are 4,294,967, 296 (Slightly Over 4 Billion) IP addresses available in IPv4 version.

Currently, there are 7,346,235,000 people in the world according to world population review. Global data shows that 3 billion people are connected to the Internet.

Also, note that one person can have a phone and a tablet, this further increases the IP address demand. Simple calculation implies that if everyone was to own a computer, we would run out of the available IPv4 addresses.

Therefore, the IPv4 address system became inefficient with the danger of running out of address as more devices continue to connect to the Internet. This led to two major inventions that delayed IPv4 exhaustion up to date are explained below.

First, the invention of Network Address Translation (NAT) that introduced the duplication of IPs by introducing private and public IP addresses. Secondly, the invention of the IPv6 IP address that has an unlimited number of IP addresses.

IPv6 IP Address

Probably many people including techies may have not seen an IPv6 IP address so far. As mentioned, IPv6 was invented to solve the IPv4 exhaustion challenge. Below is a brief summary of how.

IPv6 IP Address Syntax

An IPv6 is made of 8 blocks of hexadecimal characters separated by a full colon. Each block is made of 4 characters though it may be abbreviated when the 4 characters are zeros.

IPv6 IP Address Example

The 2001:aa0c:ad12:0000:0000:7ae2:324a is an example of a  IPv6 IP address. Note IPv6 is case insensitive. Therefore, the letters can be either small or capital letters.  Thus above IP can also be written as 2001:AA0C:AD12:0000:0000:7AE2:324A.

IPv4 IP Address Numbers

IPv6 is a 128-bit meaning there are 2 power 128 = 3.47 * 10 to power 38 IP addresses. These are enough to connect all devices that will ever be invented in this world in future. This will solve the IPv4 exhaustion.

IPV6 numerous IP address has finally made the dream of the Internet of Things (IoT) that will connect both home and industrial gadgets to the internet.

However, with technological advancement and invention of the Internet of Things (IoT), but still, with NAT, IP address exhaustion is a matter of when not if. It is for this reason that IPv6 was invented.

Conclusion

An IP address is a unique set of numbers that connects devices to the internet. IPv4 and IPv6 are two types of the internet address.

An example of IPV4 address is 192.168.1.1 while 2001:AA0C:AD12:0000:0000:7AE2:324A is an example of IPv6 IP address.

While IPV4 IP address was in danger of exhaustion, IPV6 syntax has enough IP address that is expected to serve IOT IP address demand.