The UK could run out of web addresses as soon as 2012, Google's vice-president has warned.
Vint Cerf, who helped create the web while working as a researcher at Stanford University in the US, said the bulk of the remaining IPv4 web addresses will be allocated next spring, which potentially means they will be used up by "sometime in 2012".
Cerf was speaking at the launch of 6UK, a campaign group to promote the uptake of the new address system, known as IPv6. According to Cerf, IPv6 can host "340 trillion trillion trillion" addresses compared to the 4.3 billion hosted by IPv4.
"So the theory is we won't run out - at least, not until after I'm dead," Cerf told The Guardian.
"You need to be able to talk to everyone in the world [who] is on the internet. If Europe doesn't implement IPv6, it won't be able to talk to the rest of the world that does implement IPv6 - that's stupid, and we don't want people here to be stupid."
He also said it would be "particularly embarrassing for the UK" as it played a key role in developing the web.
According to Nigel Titley, chairman of 6UK, none of the government websites are IPv6-enabled yet.