Another registrar gave the last block of IPv4 addresses

In 2015, ARIN (responsible for the North American region) became the first registrar to use the IPv4 pool. And in November, the addresses also ended at RIPE, which distributes resources in Europe and Asia.


/ Unsplash / David Monje

The situation at RIPE

In 2012, RIPE announced the start of the distribution of the last block / 8. From that moment, each registrar client could receive only 1024 addresses, which slightly slowed down the pool depletion. But in 2015, RIPE left 16 million free IPs, in the summer of 2019 this number decreased to 3 million.

In late November, RIPE published a letter stating that the registrar had given up the latest IP and its resources were exhausted. From now on, the pool will be replenished only at the expense of addresses that various organizations return to circulation. They will be distributed in order of priority by the / 24 blocks.

Who else have the addresses?

Three other registrars remained IPv4, but over the past few years they have been operating in a “austerity mode”. For example, African AFRINIC introduced restrictions on the number of issued addresses and strict checks on their intended use. Despite all the measures, experts predict that IPv4 of the African registrar will end in March 2020. But there is an opinion that this will happen even earlier – in January.

The Latin American LACNIC has few resources left – it distributes the last block / 8. Representatives of the organization say they give out a maximum of 1024 addresses per company. At the same time, only those customers who have never received them before can purchase a block. Similar measures were taken in the Asian APNIC. But only one fifth of the pool / 8 remained at the disposal of the organization, which will also be empty in the near future.

Not over yet

Experts say IPv4 can extend the “lifespan”. It is enough to return unclaimed addresses to the shared pool. For example, the automaker Ford Motor Company and the insurance company Prudential Securities have more than 16 million public IPv4s. A topic thread on Hacker News suggested that these organizations do not need that much IP.

In this case, it is worthwhile to return the returned addresses not in blocks as before, but in strictly necessary quantities. Another resident of HN said that the providers Spectrum / Charter and Verizon are already adopting this practice – they issue one IP from / 24 instead of the whole block / 30.

A couple of materials from our blog on Habré:

  • What to read about the work of telecom operators, network protocols and industry regulation
  • Retrospective: How IPv4 Addresses Dwindled
  • Who implements IPv6, and what hinders its development


/ Unsplash / Paz Arando

Another solution to the problem of lack of addresses may be their purchase and sale at auctions. For example, in 2017, MIT engineers found that the university owns 14 million unused IPs – most of them decided to sell. A similar story occurred in early December in Russia. The Research Institute for the Development of Public Networks (RIPN) announced the closure of the local Internet registrar LIR. After that, he transferred about 490 thousand IPv4 to the Czech company Reliable Communications. The experts estimated the total cost of the pool at $ 9-12 million.

But if companies start massively reselling IP to each other, this will lead to the growth of routing tables. However, there is a solution here – LISP (Locator / ID Separation Protocol). Here, the authors propose using two addresses when addressing the network. One to identify devices, and the second to create a tunnel between servers. This approach allows you to remove addresses from the BGP tables that cannot be combined into a single block – as a result, the routing table grows more slowly. LISP support is already being implemented by companies such as Cisco and LANCOM Systems (developing SD-WAN).

A major solution to the problem with IPv4 will be a massive transition to IPv6. But despite the fact that the protocol was developed more than 20 years ago, it still has not received wide distribution. Currently, it is supported by 15% of sites. Although a number of companies are taking steps to make a difference. So, many western cloud providers have introduced fees for unused IPv4. At the same time, the addresses involved (connected to the virtual machine) are provided free of charge.

In general, network equipment manufacturers and Internet service providers are happy to switch to IPv6. But they regularly face difficulties with migration. We will prepare a separate material about these difficulties and ways to solve them.

What we write about in the VAS Experts corporate blog:

  • IPv6 Implementation – FAQ for Internet Service Providers
  • IPv6 – from theory to practice
  • IPv6 – Present or Future Technology

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