You Won't Find IPv4 Numbers on eBay

Many companies may have unused IPv4 numbers, but capitalizing on their scarcity will be difficult, though not impossible

February 2, 2011

3 Min Read
You Won't Find IPv4 Numbers on eBay

The near exhaustion of IPv4 addresses isn't likely to result in a stampede for the final few addresses held by the regional Internet authorities, but there could well be some creative bargaining between companies that have unused addresses and those that need them. (See Global IPv4 Counter Hits Zero.)

IPv4 address hoarding isn't possible, maintains John Curran, president and CEO of the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) , one of the regional Internet registries that will now share all the remaining IPv4 numbers. Anyone requesting IPv4 numbers must demonstrate need and show how previous allocations of numbers have been used, he says.

Nor can service providers or large businesses sell their remaining blocks of IPv4 numbers. "The numbers are not their property," Curran says.

But companies that still have unused IPv4 numbers, or that are willing to reconfigure and thus reduce their use of existing numbers -- using network address translation devices, for example -- may be able to make money transferring them to other companies in need.

So how would this work?
According to Curran, Company A that needs IPv4 addresses would come to ARIN with documented need, and be approved, and then make a deal with Company B, which has the addresses, and ARIN would grant the transfer. Money could pass between the two companies.

"Say a company reconfigures its network arrangement and now needs only half of its address," Curran says. "There is effort involved in doing that and it is fair for that company to be incented to make those changes."

The Internet community has created policies that govern this process and companies must follow those policies, he adds.

Some of the excess number blocks date back to the earliest days of the Internet, when IPv4 numbers blocks only came in three sizes: Class A had 256 addresses; Class B had about 64,000; and Class C had 16 million.

Internet pioneers who needed, say, 64,300, wound up with way more than they needed, but Curran points out that many companies -- including the U.S. Department of Defense, Stanford University and the Interop tradeshow -- have turned in the excess numbers to ARIN for redistribution. (See Interop Gives Back IPv4 Numbers.)

Curran's greater concern is that service providers and Web content providers alike step up their efforts to be IPv6 ready by supporting access to Internet content by both the IPv4 and IPv6 end points. For service providers, that largely involves dual-stacking within the network, and creating gateway points with transition devices that will connect newer IPv6 users to Internet content that is still in the IPv4 realm, and vice versa.

Where those transition devices will be located and how well they will function remains an open question, Curran says, and there is concern that latency introduced at a gateway point will disrupt some applications, such as gaming, VoIP and streaming audio/video.

Concerns about IPv6 introduction
There is also concern that IPv6 might not be turned on correctly -- that users might turn on IPv6 when they don't have that kind of connectivity, Curran says. That creates problems because any website set up to support IPv6 will default to that setting and create connectivity problems for the user.

On World IPv6 Day, set for June 8, major content providers such as Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), Yahoo Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO) and Facebook have agreed to conduct a 24-hour test during which they will make their primary sites -- which currently are IPv4-based -- support both IPv4 and IPv6, so that mis-configurations can be identified and fixed. Currently, the major content providers have separate IPv4 and IPv6 sites.

For more
Here's a look at more IPv6 news:

  • Cable: We're Ready for IPv6

  • AT&T Pushes IPv6

  • Eslambolchi: 10 Service Provider Pain Points

  • IPV6, MPLS-TP Are Hot, Says Forum

  • Cox Tees Up IPv6

  • Report: Most ISPs Are IPv6 Ready

— Carol Wilson, Chief Editor, Events, Light Reading

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