Have we really run out of IPv4 addresses?
June 10, 2011
By Brian Monkman, Network Security Programs Manager

There is a top-level worldwide administrator responsible for the overall pool of Internet addresses. This administrator is the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), which hands out address blocks in Regional Internet Registries (RIR) – of which there are five. The last block was handed out in February.  The five RIRs are somewhat geographically dispersed.  APNIC (the Asia Pacific Regional Registry) apparently ran out of IPv4 addresses in April.  It is predicted that the RIR responsible for Europe (RIPE NCC) will run out late this year and the RIR responsible for the U.S. and Canada (ARIN), early next year. The RIR responsible for Latin America and the Caribbean (LACNIC) is expected to run out sometime in 2014 and the RIR responsible for Africa (AFRINIC) in 2016. (A more complete explanation of this can be found in the March 2011 issue of The Internet Protocol Journal, from which these dates were taken.) 

Does this mean that there are not any IPv4 addresses available?  No. 

Many large entities were assigned Class A blocks back when IPv4 addresses were not in short supply. It has been suggested by a number of sources that a form of brokerage or market might emerge where unused IPv4 addresses could be sold to the highest bidder. The question arises as to whether the IANA or the five RIRs could claim domain over these and claw them back.  This should provide the lawyers some work for the short term. 

So, do you want to risk it? Do you want to take action now or wait until you have no choice? Remember Y2K? Regardless of whether you fall into the "it wasn't real" camp or not, I think you will agree that despite having a clear date of when all of the Y2K related issues had to be addressed, system admins and vendors that procrastinated were left scrambling a few weeks prior to December 31, 1999. This time, the issue is there is no clear line in the sand. 

The recommendation by many who are in a position to see the writing on the wall is that you act now!! We at ICSA Labs agree with this position 100 percent.  To do nothing less is, in our opinion, foolhardy.


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