Vint Cerf, one of the internet's pioneers, has warned that the online service could face years of instability as it moves to a new addressing system.
According to the BBC, Cerf spoke as the UK was urged to begin using the new addressing system.
Cerf, the vice-president of Google, told a conference in London yesterday that the final batch of conventional internet protocol (IP) addresses, the unique numbers needed by computers to operate online, would be exhausted by early 2012. He also stated that during the switch, internet links could become unreliable making sites and services hard to reach.
"This has to happen or the internet will stop growing or will not be growable," he said of the move to the addressing system.
The net has grown to its current size, using version 4 of its addressing scheme (IPv4), which allows for about 4.3 billion addresses. Estimates suggest that this pool of addresses will be exhausted by the end of January 2012.
A system with a far larger pool of addresses has been created, called IPv6, but progress towards using it has been slow.
"The business community needs to understand that this is an infrastructure they are relying on and it needs to change for them to continue to grow and to rely on it," Cerf said.
Criticising global businesses as "short-sighted" for not making the shift sooner, he added: "They cannot grow their business if they do not have an address space to grow it into."
The problem of the switchover will be exacerbated because the two addressing systems are not compatible, Cerf stated further.
Currently only about one percent of data sent over the internet is wrapped in IPv6 packets, said Cerf, adding that moving to using the bigger address space should now be a global priority. (ANI)