This week, arbitrary amounts of web traffic slowed or failed outright – including eBay in the UK – due to a long-known limitation on the number of addresses supported by older routers.
Within these traffic-handling devices, a phone-book-like lookup technique known as the Border Gateway Protocol matches web page address requests to IP addresses: older routers could store only half a million address-IP pairs.
As of August 2014, many routers have begun to glitch as the number of addresses exceeds that limit. One result is non-responsive websites; more commonly slowdowns.
As described by Canada’s National Post, this “caused problems for eBay users in Britain who were prevented from logging on to the auction site. Elsewhere, browsing speeds were slow and websites had sporadic outages.”
No, the internet is not “full”.
No, the internet is not out of addresses.
Some older routers need to be reconfigured, and replaced in a year or two, so that they can handle the number of addresses now in use. What sort of update is needed? It’s pretty simple for now. See this lovely and straightforward explanation from MIT’s Technology Review: Recent outages don’t mean the Internet is breaking.
More details – though lots more confusion regarding the technology aspects – in Britain’s the Independent…