North America has officially run out of its stock of old net addresses.

This week the American agency which oversees net addresses in the region gave out the last block of these vital net components.

It said companies in North America should now accelerate their move to the latest version of the net’s addressing system.

Now Africa is the only region with any significant blocks of the older version 4 internet addresses available.

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The older addressing system, called IPv4, was created when the net was being set up in the 1970s. The system can support up to 4.3 billion addresses but the massive growth of the online world has swiftly depleted this.

The successor addressing system, known as IPv6, can handle a vast amount of addresses and is unlikely to ever run out. IPv6 has been available since 1999 but only now are large numbers of firms starting to use it.

“Organisations should be prepared to help usher in the next phase of the internet by deploying IPv6 as soon as possible,” John Curran, head of the American Registry for Internet Numbers (Arin) told tech news site The Register.

Shifting to IPv6 can be tricky for some ISPs because, for the time being, they have to support both old and new addressing schemes. Running both and translating from one to the other can break some services and introduce delays that irk customers.

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