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The United States could run out of unique Internet addresses to assign to new devices by the end of next year, a telecommunications official said on Tuesday.
Internet Protocol version 4, known as IPv4, provides the dominant architecture for the Internet. It requires devices to have unique identifiers, known as an IP address, but it only has space for 4.3 billion of those addresses.
The recent profusion of mobile devices like Research in Motion's BlackBerry and Apple's iPad, and the expansion of Internet services to more homes have quickly depleted available addresses.
An upgrade to the Internet's main communications protocol with more space, called IPv6, is available, but adoption in the United States has lagged behind Europe, China and other countries.