IP protocols/software

Ready to Join the IPv4 Cops?

12:30 PM -- If it takes a village to raise a child, it apparently takes the Internet community to prevent the current depletion of IPv4 addresses from precipitating number hoarding and profiteering. (See You Won't Find IPv4 Numbers on eBay.)

And when I say community, that can include anyone who uses the Internet, since the policies for using Internet addresses are set through a very open process. In North America, American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) is the regional Internet registry and you can not only see its policies here but also propose changes to them.

So we are all part of this community -- okay?

The primary sheriffs in our community are the ISPs, who are expected to report instances where IP addresses are being used by people other than those to whom they are assigned. In such instances, the regional number registry involved can "reclaim those resources," says John Curran, president and CEO of ARIN, which will be handing out its final blocks of IPv4 numbers this year, and expected to run out by the fall. (see You Won't Find IPv4 Numbers on eBay)

Instead of being the cop, in other words, ARIN is more like the local library, sharing resources as long as the rules for their use are followed.

After numbers are gone, our community's trading post will become very active, Curran admits, since the only IPv4 addresses available will be those owned by businesses that aren't using them. ARIN's role in those trades is to make sure the businesses receiving the addresses are qualified -– it can't stop a company from charging for the addresses it provides.

"ARIN is not a party to that part of the transaction," Curran says. "We just need two people -- one of who is qualified, one who is willing to transfer."

Even trades for profit benefit the community at large, he says, because they get unused IPv4 addresses back into the active pool. And if trades happen outside the ARIN process, and nobody reports them, well, that's the Internet community's will in action.

"The community is the community -- traffic to those addresses has to get routed by ISPs, they have to cooperate," Curran says. "If the two parties are happy and no one reports it, I would argue that the community's will is fulfilled."

Businesses caught cheating lose the IPv4 numbers and potentially, their connection to the Internet, and that makes rampant fraud too risky, Curran says.

There are those who want ARIN to be more aggressive -- if you check out the ARIN policies page, it's Proposal 120 -- but the process for adopting proposals is long and involved, and this proposal has barely begun climbing that mountain.

Apparently, our community isn't too concerned -- yet -- about possible lawless behavior. I'm thinking that could change, if it becomes obvious that certain parties are capitalizing on this transition bit time.

But the leaders of our community, like John Curran, would rather we focus on building the next new thing -- the IPv6 community -- than on worrying about the losers among us still focused on wringing the last bit of life out of the old stuff.

— Carol Wilson, Chief Editor, Events, Light Reading

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