What is an IP address

An IP address is a unique set of characters that identify any device that connects on the Internet. When a device tries to connect to the internet, a server assigns the device an IP address that the internet use to identify that particular device.

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 addresses we have used for decades. On the other end, IPv6 is the upcoming IP addressing system invented for reasons we will see later.



IPv4 IP Addresses

These are IP address version that we have used since the invention of the Internet. Perhaps, this is the IP address your phone, tablet, or computer use to connect to the internet right now.

Technically, IPv4 address is 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 that has 4 blocks of 8 bits each. Each of the 4 blocks is a decimal number(s) 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 earlier are 192, 168, 1, and 1.

The above statement implies that 4 blocks of 8 bits each totals 32 bits. It is for this reason we referred IPv4 address as a 32-bit.

Something interesting. Only human can understand the 192.168.1.1 IP address. In other words, human understand decimal numbers.

Contrarily, computers don’t understand decimal numbers. Instead, they understand bits or binary numbers that are either 0s or 1s. In that regard, a computer interprets each block into 8 binary bits.



IP V4 Address Classification

IPv4 groups IP address into 4 categories. We refer to these categories as the IP Address Classes. There are 5 IPv4 IP classes as follows.

CLASS A (1.0.0.1 – 126.255.255.254). The first block range from 1 to 126.

CLASS B (128.1.0.1 – 190.255.255.254). The first block range from 128 to 190.

CLASS C (192.1.1.1 – 223.255.255.254). The first block range from 192 to 223.

CLASS D (224.0.0.0 – 239.255.255.254). The first block range from 224 to 239.

CLASS E (240.0.0.0 – 254.255.255.254). The first block range from 240to 254.

IPv4 Exhaustion

Let’s start with simple math. 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 system.

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 if one person owns 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.

Take note IPv6 is case insensitive. Thus, letters can either be small or capital letters. For instance, a and A or e and E, are same.

Thus, we can write above IP address as  2001:AA0C:AD12:0000:0000:7AE2:324A. Or any other combination of letters.

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 IP addresses to connect all devices that manufacture will ever manufacture in future. This will solve the IPv4 exhaustion.



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

However, with technological advancement and invention of the IoT, but still, with NAT, IP address exhaustion is a matter of when not if. To solve this, computer scientist invented 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 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 addresses that are expected to meet IoT IP address demand.