IPv4 tank nearly dry

Dylan Bushell-Embling
02 Feb 2011

The crunch time for IPv6 migration loomed closer yesterday, as internet registry APNIC was allocated the final free-floating blocks of IPv4 address space.

ICANN and the Number Resource Organization have called a press conference for tomorrow to “make a significant announcement,” leading to speculation that the final five of the 256 blocks of IPv4 spectrum will be allocated then.

Under a long-standing policy one of these blocks, each containing around 16.7 million addresses, will be allocated to each regional internet registry.

APAC's APNIC said it will continue normal allocations for only the next three to six months.

After this time it will start doling out only small allocations from the final block, to ensure adequate IPv4 address space is available for IPv6 transition.

According to industry projections, had APNIC chosen to continue to allocate IPv4 unabated, it would run out of addresses by mid-2011. It would be the first of the regional registries to exhaust their address pool.

In an indication of regional service providers' response to the looming deadline, Australian ISP Internode yesterday revealed that it plans to allocate both IPv4 and IPv6 addresses in a dual-stack configuration to new internet users for a number of years.

“The exhaustion of new IPv4 allocations from global Internet Registries is a little like Peak Oil,” managing director Simon Hackett said.

“There won’t be any more large ‘discoveries’ of IPv4 addresses, so ISPs around the world will now mine their existing stocks to exhaustion point over the next few years.”

He said the company will move its IPv6 service into full production in 2011, but that it holds sufficient IPv4 address space to meet customer demand for at least three to five years.

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