On Thursday of last week (September 24th), the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) announced that it has officially run out of IPv4 addresses. This is an important milestone in a countdown that started on 3 February 2011, when IANA’s central pool of IPv4 addresses was depleted, triggering the implementation of the last phase of the Global Policy “for the Allocation of the Remaining IPv4 Address Space”. That policy requires IANA to equally distribute the remaining public pool IPv4 blocks to the five Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) – each RIR receiving a single /8 block (around 16 million addresses).
You may be asking, “Why is it important to highlight IPv4 depletion in ARIN region?” Let’s take a look at why.
First of all, this event closes the loop on IPv4 depletion for the RIRs that serve the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries, which have the most developed Internet Infrastructure. And second, the majority of IPv4 addresses are used within North America – 40% of the total pool are used in that region (Figure 1).
Figure-1: IPv4 Space distribution as of 25 September 2015 (source: RIR stats file)
Now that ARIN’s pool has been depleted, AFRINIC remains the only RIR that still has IPv4 addresses available for normal allocation and assignment. I will be exploring that more later in the article, as it’s an interesting situation.
Obviously, the fact that the biggest consumer of IPv4 addresses (North America) has run out will have an impact on the region. It will probably put more pressure on the IPv4 transfer market and the costs associated with transfer services (as there aren’t any other alternatives to the regular allocation process). This will push the operators to pay more attention to the ultimate solution for the IPv4 exhaustion that the technical community, with the RIRs at the forefront, have been promoting for several years: IPv6. This has been said and repeated time and time again, but it is time to start considering IPv6 as the Internet Protocol, because we are moving a bit away from IPv4 every day. While IPv4 will continue to be used as legacy protocol for a while, the future is with IPv6. It allows for greater visibility in any planning for scalable development of Internet services and usage.
Companies and network operators need to make the important move to ensure that their infrastructure is IPv6 ready, and they need to do so today. They can either continue spending a lot of money growing their network with a version of the Internet Protocol that has shown its limitations in term of number of available unique identifiers, locking themselves in a gray transition area by doing so, or put themselves ahead of the curve and get ready for a market that will serve billions of users and billions of connected devices… READ MORE