Businesses that act now to prepare for IPv6 should be given "tax credits" to help them with the migration, according to Vint Cerf.
Cerf, one of the founders of the internet, said there needed to be assistance for businesses taking the issue seriously, as IPv4 addresses begin to run out.
The current IPv4 address infrastructure is likely to run out in 2012, he said.
IPv4 allows for around 4.3 billion addresses to be used, but with the fast-growing number of people and machines on the internet, IPv6, with its 340 trillion trillion trillion potential addresses is becoming necessary.
"There are around 770 million machines presently connected to the internet with domain names," he said. "But look at the growth potential. It's not just PCs, there are 4.5 billion mobiles out there and around a fifth are internet enabled."
The growth of smart energy and other internet-linked devices will add even more machines to the net, he said.
When the last five tranches of IPv4 addresses are available, the global registry will allocate one tranche to each of the five main continents, and then the only remaining addresses will be the few held by internet service providers.
"At this point businesses have to see we are effectively at zero addresses," he said.
This means businesses that have left the switch will effectively be forced to make the change if they are to have more capacity. They will also be pushed by increasing IPv6 demands from more advanced customers and suppliers, with whom they will not be able to communicate before making the switch.
In the presence of the government's director of information economy, David Hendon, Cerf argued that more incentives were needed to make sure people make the switch.
Hendon announced the formation of 6UK, a not-for-profit membership organisation designed to raise awareness of the issue and guide people making the migration.
This story, "Vint Cerf: Give tax credits to businesses to act on IPv6" was originally published by Computerworld UK.