The available number of unallocated Internet addresses using the older IPv4 protocol has dropped below 10 percent, according to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
ICANN says there are just 24 address blocks (each block is about 16-million IP addresses) that it has not yet allocated to the Regional Internet Registries around the globe.
"This is the time for the Internet community to act," said Rod Beckstrom, ICANN's President and Chief Executive Officer.
"For the global Internet to grow and prosper without limitation, we need to encourage the rapid widespread adoption of the IPv6 protocol."
IPv6 is the new protocol the Internet engineering community designed to deal with the increased demand for IP addresses, which are the unique identifiers that allow computers to communicate with one another over the Internet and to which DNS servers translate domain names. IPv4 addresses contain only 32 bits of data, while IPv6 addresses contain 128 bits.
"Quite simply it comes down to the fact that IPv6 is the future of the Internet," said Beckstrom.
"The Internet now defines communication and commerce and to accommodate its explosive worldwide growth we need to act now to guarantee an online future that accommodates growth with few limitations."
Beckstrom also said it is important for people to understand that many blocks of IPv4 addresses that have been allocated to registries have not yet been distributed to the public, so there will be no immediate global shortage of IPv4 addresses at the consumer level.