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Is the internet limitless or does it have a max capacity?

Discussion in 'The Lounge - Off Topic' started by ManicD, Dec 23, 2007.

  1. ManicD

    ManicD Byte Poster

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    "Is the internet limitless or does it have a max capacity? If it is limited is that due to the ammount of internet capable devices?"

    Someone asked me this on another forum and i wrote a long reply. I think i got everything right, but i'll put it to you guys to pick holes.

    Just for fun... (it is sad I do things like this just for fun?)

    ------------------------------------------------

    Does the Internet have a max capacity? in short YES.

    now, the reason differs depending on what you really mean by capacity,

    If you mean, how much file storage is on the Internet (including storage of webpage files) then the internets maximum capacity is the hard drive capacity of every computer running some form of web server and connected to the Internet. Now, seeing as each of these computers storage can be upgraded when each computer gets low, this maximum capacity is growing almost constantly. but at any given time, yes there is a maximum storage limit on the Internet.

    BUT

    if you mean is there a maximum number of computers that can be connected at any one time, then the answer is almost simpler. First you have to understand one very simple fact, in order for the internet to work, just like any communication system, EVERY SINGLE place on that system must have a UNIQUE address. Now on the internet every computer is given a unique address by the company you pay to get Internet access. Now the internet address is called an IP Address, and this is written in 'decimal point notation' as 4 numbers separated by full stops. Example: 192.168.0.255.
    Now the maths, each number can be between 0 and 255

    therefore to work out the total number of addresses we do the sum

    255 x 255 x 255 x 255 = 4,228,250,625 possible addresses.

    now, a number of these addresses are assigned special use, and cant be used on the internet

    399,058,425 of them to be precice

    which leaves 3,829,192,200 possible UNIQUE addresses on the internet, and therefore thats the MAX number of computers that can be connected at anyone time.

    ....


    ....


    ....


    .... ALMOST

    ...

    you see the big people who run the Internet realized they are fast running out of addresses to give out. lots have been wasted here and there. Companies like Microsoft typically own 16,581,375 addresses (yes i can be the precise, its complicated) and they clearly don't used them all, or even a fraction of them. so lots are wasted and the Internet is running out of addresses.

    so they made IPv6 (IP Version 6(the previous one was v4, don't ask what happened to 1,2,3&5, again its complicated). Which is slowly being integrated into the Internet. this give a few more addresses, instead of

    4,228,250,625 possible addresses.

    you now have

    340,282,366,920,938,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 Possible addresses

    approximately,
    50,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 addresses for EACH of the roughly 6.5 billion people alive today.

    In a different perspective, this is 252 addresses for every star in the known universe.

    Again, a few cant be used for special reasons (121,698,171,442,028,000,000,000,000,000,000
    ),
    which leave only
    340,282,245,222,767,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000


    But as you can see, the fact that everyone MUST have a UNIQUE address, means there is a limit in the amount of addresses available, Thanks to IPv6 we are never likely to reach this limit.

    wow thats longer than i thought it would be....but it certainly answers the question


    ---------

    Did i get it right?
     
    Certifications: MCSA, N+, A+(Tech), ECDL
    WIP: 70-294, 70-298
  2. JonGlory

    JonGlory Byte Poster

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    See reason for edit :P
     
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  3. ManicD

    ManicD Byte Poster

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    when? where? when? why?
     
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  4. damienj3

    damienj3 Byte Poster

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    Wow. Even I understood that. lol
     
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  5. hbroomhall

    hbroomhall Petabyte Poster Gold Member

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    Very good. The only part I would take issue with is your calculation of number of computers that can be connected with IPv4.

    Because of NAT you can have many machines apparantly behind one IP address. This is, in fact, how IPv4 has lasted well beyond the dates predicted that its address space would be exhausted!

    Harry.
     
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  6. drum_dude

    drum_dude Gigabyte Poster

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    LOL! Wish I'd seen your original post! :D:D
     
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  7. ManicD

    ManicD Byte Poster

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    I did consider going into this but the article was already getting long enough.

    and really, with NAT your no longer talking about the internet itself having a capacity, because the networked computers are not actually "on the internet" themselves, only the NAT server is, the rest can just access the internet through that computer. Maybe i'll write an add-on.
     
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  8. ffreeloader

    ffreeloader Terabyte Poster

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    I think I'd differ with you here. I'm not "on the internet" because I'm sitting behind a router that does NAT? If I'm not "on the internet", how did I post this?
     
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  9. hbroomhall

    hbroomhall Petabyte Poster Gold Member

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    And with nat/pat forwarding the distinction between private IPs and public ones blurs even more. :biggrin

    Harry.
     
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  10. Rover977

    Rover977 Byte Poster

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    Both storage capacity and number of network nodes connected capacity have been mentioned, but another type is bandwidth capacity, which has a limit on any computer network. For example connecting two computers at home via a Fast Ethernet connection only allows a certain data transfer rate between them, and likewise the large carrier networks using fibre optic cables which form the internet backbones have a limit to the bandwidth they can provide (although it is huge). With the increasing use of multimedia web content and downloading of multimedia files this bandwidth is increasingly being used up.
     
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  11. ffreeloader

    ffreeloader Terabyte Poster

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    Agreed. I have an https server with a 192.168.X.X address that is very reachable from the internet. One of these days soon it will be reachable from a public url/domain name. I can also ssh/scp into any of the computers behind my router from public IP addresses. I have one public IP assigned to me, but it covers access for several systems.
     
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  12. tripwire45
    Honorary Member

    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

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    I read a news article some months ago (which I now can't find) that measured the limitations of the Internet not in terms of available IP addresses but of traffic capacity. The Internet can only support so much network traffic based on the number and speed of information conduits, just like any other network. Put too much traffic on the backbones and responsiveness will get slower and slower. The more nodes that are connected to the Internet and are using it at one time, the more overall traffic will hit a "speed bump".

    I don't know the numbers behind that and I don't know if this is particularly imminient or not (I seem to remember the year 2010 being brought up in the article), but the basics of the argument make sense.
     
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  13. ffreeloader

    ffreeloader Terabyte Poster

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    I'd agree with that. The internet is more limited by the combination of available bandwidth, and types of content being used, than by the number of public ip's available. I don't hear lots of public debate and/or ISP's crying about the lack of IP addresses available to them and that this issue is the limiting growth factor for them.

    I hear lots of debate about bandwidth issues and ISP's wanting to limit types of traffic and who gets to access their portions of the "internet". These policies, if they are given their way, will greatly limit the internet available to everyone. They want it so that if you subscribe to Comcast then you'll only get access to Comcast-approved content, meaning those companies with a combination of both the resources and desire to make their content available to Comcast users. The same would go for any user of any ISP.

    You live in England, you might not even have access to Certforums as it's hosted in the US. I might not even get access to it as my ISP might not grant Certforums access to their little bit of the internet, as it's doubtful Certforums would want to/could afford to pay their blackmail money to allow their users access to it.

    That's the real life limitation that the internet is facing right now. Big companies want to parcel it off into their own little fiefdoms, and it that happens, well, goodbye internet as we know it.
     
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  14. ManicD

    ManicD Byte Poster

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    My phrasing might be off, I'm not brilliant with words, to me, someone behind NAT, "has access to the Internet" but is not "on the Internet"
    A computer behind a NAT server has the valid IP Address of 192.168.2.2 i cannot go somewhere else on the internet, type that in and get that computer, I have to type in someone else's address and rely on them to pass the message on.

    To me being on the internet, is being DIRECTLY connected to the internet, not being connected to a device that is connected to the internet, its a very fine line to define, I'm not sure I'm explaining that well.
     
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  15. ManicD

    ManicD Byte Poster

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    Bandwidth is not really so much of a consideration in this situation, theoretically the data will always be able to move, practically, yes it will become so slow that is wont be any use to anyone.

    now this is a really poor explination of what I mean but i cant think of words to write it out
     
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  16. ffreeloader

    ffreeloader Terabyte Poster

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    In real life that's not always true. Ever tried to get through to a busy server or to a site that's undergoing a DDOS attack or a site being /.'ed? Traffic alone, or lack of bandwidth alone, can be enough to stop anyone from accessing a site. Too many dropped packets soon ends up in a dropped connection.
     
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  17. Bluerinse
    Honorary Member

    Bluerinse Exabyte Poster

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    I think you need to consider this. If you are behind a nat router and have a private IP address, are *packets* from your computer reaching destinations on the Internet and vice versa, are Internet web servers etc able to send packets back to your PC? If the answer is yes (which it is) then your computer is *on the Internet*. It is your computer that is initiating the communication and it is your computer that is recieving the replies. The NAT device is simply a translator.
     
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  18. Rover977

    Rover977 Byte Poster

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    Just as a matter of interest, is this achieved via PAT on your router, ie from your client program (eg browser, or ssh/scp client) on the public internet, you specify your router's internet IP address plus a TCP/UDP port number, and the router then knows from that port number which computer on your internal network is the intended destination ?
     
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  19. ffreeloader

    ffreeloader Terabyte Poster

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    Yeah. It's just simple port forwarding to a private address. But, it means the servers are directly available at my public IP address. As far as any computer on the internet is concerned my https and ssh servers are located at my public IP address.
     
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  20. JonGlory

    JonGlory Byte Poster

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    I wish i could remember it :D
     
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