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IP Address Essay

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As stated by the website howstuffworks.com (What is an IP address?), ‘An IP address is assigned to every device connected to the Internet. This is a 32 bit protocol, as it consists of 4 binary octets’. However they are usually written in decimal form for ease of use. The maximum decimal number allowed by one octet is 255 (or 11111111 in binary). The total number of unique possibilities of 4 octets would therefore be 256^4, roughly 4.3 billion addresses.
Demand for IP addresses is increasing due to reasons such as low cost computers, advancement in technology, and improvements in accessibility. Personal computers have been subject to a dramatic decrease in price over the last 10 years, allowing them to be bought by more households – 70%
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The ‘dot com bubble’ also saw a rapid uproar in the number of web based companies, such as Amazon and eBay. Much smaller businesses have also adapted to the Internet and are making use of its low cost. Also, due to the low cost and minimal knowledge require to run and maintain a website, thanks to Content Management Systems and website creation software, many personal websites, to do with hobbies, interests and experiences are also present on the Internet.
Due to all these factors, the number of devices connected to the Internet has increased, therefore the number of available IP addresses has decreased, leading to the situation that IP addresses will run out by 2011.

A possible solution to this problem would be for devices to share IP addresses. This can be done by using NAT (Network Address Translation). NAT sends and receives data back and forth between the computer and the Internet. Multiple computers can use the same NAT, and to the Internet, it will seem as though the data is all coming from one computer, rather than several computers. A particular use of NAT is in routers and modems for home networks. These allow many computers to connect to a LAN (Local Area Network) with their own private IP addresses, but they are all connected to the Internet with a single IP address.
The following diagram shows this implementation of NAT.
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