Vint Cerf, nicknamed the 'godfather of the internet', has warned Britain of the risk of running out of web addresses by 2012, unless they adopt the new IPv6 protocol.
The Telegraph quoted Cerf, a Google vice-president credited with inventing the modern internet, as saying that the "unbelievable" trend could prevent UK businesses from communicating with their customers around the world and in the UK, and hold back the development of a new wave of connected devices.
He also stated that it was "particularly embarrassing for Britain, which had played such a key role in the development of the internet" adding that Britain was a long way behind many other European countries including the Czech Republic.
The final tranche of web addresses will be allocated between the organisations that provide them to individual customers in spring next year, and that they would all be used up "sometime in 2012," the paper said.
He further warned that without the implementation of a new system, "we will run out - there will be address trade and attempts at hijacking."
The bulk of the internet is currently based on a protocol called IPv4. A new version, called IPv6, is already established, but the majority of internet service providers are yet to turn it on. The two systems cannot talk to each other, so British users of IPv4 will need either new equipment or a software upgrade.
Criticising the short-sighted business decisions that had led to the situation arising, Cerf opened an event to launch a Government-backed UK organisation called 6UK to encourage the adoption of IPv6.
"If you don't do something about this the UK will not be able to reach the rest of the world that's on v6," he added.