"This next-generation version of the Internet protocol, IPv6, provides trillions more addresses than the IPv4 system that is in use by most networks today," the Internet Corp for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) said in a statement on Wednesday.

The US Department of Commerce awarded ICANN the task of coordinating the internet's naming and numbering system globally, and rapid growth in the use of the world wide web had raised fears about a future scarcity of internet protocol addresses.

"By taking this significant step forward in the transition to IPv6, ICANN is supporting the innovations through which the Internet evolves to meet the growing needs of a global economy," said ICANN, which is holding its six-day annual conference in Malaysia.

Domain names

"Every atom in the universe will now get an address. I don't see a problem with IPv6 running short of domain addresses," US internet expert John Klensin said.

On the development of internationalised domain names (IDNs), Klensin, the former chair of the Internet Architecture Board, said there were serious technical problems in creating domain names in local language characters.

The problems include regional variations in characters in languages such as Chinese and the fact that some languages such as Arabic are written from right to left.

But Kieran Baker, ICANN's general manager said the meeting was expected to provide "some conclusions on how we can move forward."