The final batch of IPv4 addresses have been offered up for allocation, marking the near-end for the fourth version of the internet protocol.

This means that it is all action stations for internet registry RIPE NCC, which is now allocating IPv4 from the last block of /8 addresses - a total of 16.8 million IPv4 addresses.

And the last of the /8 block is below the 'critically low' barrier and this means that requests from now on have to be put through a strict set of guidelines, which are outlined on RIPE's website.

Once all remaining requests are allocated then emails will go out to the unlucky few that requested an address but didn't make the cut. So, it's a bit like X Factor, without all the contrived singing.

Monitoring supplies

Speaking about reaching the last IPv4 hurdle, Axel Pawlik, Managing Director of the RIPE NCC said: "When the Internet was first designed it seemed highly unlikely that IP address space would ever be an issue.

"However, the limitations of the pool of IPv4 address space became clear over time, and in the last few years we have been monitoring supplies closely, preparing ourselves and all stakeholders for the next stage of the Internet.

"Reaching the last /8 underlines the importance of IPv6 deployment, which is vital to the future growth of the Internet."

According to Pawlik, 50 per cent of RIPE NCC members are now up to date with IPv6 and there's enough measures in place to make sure that no one tries to bulk by the last /8 addresses.

Once they are gone, though, then it is IPv6 all the way, but the complication is that iPv4 and iPv6 aren't compatible protocols.

The good news is that once folks are on IPv6, then the system should never run out of addresses.