Fewer than 5% of IPv4 blocks remain

The number of unallocated IPv4 blocks has fallen to fewer than 5%, according to the Number Resource Organisation (NRO).

Fewer than 5% of IPv4 blocks remain

Of the original 256 blocks, there are now only 12 left, after a pair were handed to APNIC, the registry for Asia-Pacific, said NRO chairman Axel Pawlik.

IPv4 is the current system used to give a unique internet protocol address to every web-connected device. While it offers four billion addresses, it’s in danger of running out.

While the rollout of replacement architecture IPv6 started over a decade ago, not enough ISPs, businesses, governments and other organisations have moved over.

Opinion

Contributing editor Steve Cassidy: Seen at a global level, where all requests for a static address are of equal standing, this appears terrifying.

Personally I am responsible for some 128 global static addresses, of which possibly 28 are in use – not because I have 128 clients but because those were what the ISPs offered.

There is no doubt that 2011 will be the year of IPv6 – but the impact of the numbering authorities switching to ‘scavenge mode’ in IPv4 has not yet been made clear.

“If you don’t have any plans to move to IPv6, you aren’t part of the future,” Pawlik told PC Pro. “If you don’t get up and do something now, you will feel the pain later on.”

As of January this year, 10% of the blocks of addresses remained unallocated by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) to regional internet registries (RIRs).

Pawlik predicted the IANA would run out of blocks of addresses in June of next year. From that point, the RIRs would still have addresses to hand out, but they are expected to run out by early 2012, if not sooner.

“There is a feeling it may be late next year we will run dry,” said Pawlik. “There are so few big blocks left to RIRs that it becomes increasingly difficult to foresee,” he admitted, saying there was no way of knowing when a region would ask for another block of addresses.

Allocation bodies are also planning to hang on to some addresses for future use by new ISPs, which will require some IPv4 addresses even after the switch to IPv6.

“IPv4 is probably never going to go away completely,” Pawlik explained. “There will be some machine somewhere needing to run both. ISPs will need a couple of IPv4 addresses to take part.”

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