An era in Internet history has just ended; the world's Net users have exhausted the supply of Internet addresses which work to what is known as Internet Protocol Version 4. The time has come to move slowly to IPv6 or version 6. Last week, the Number Resource Organization (NRO), the body which represents the five Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) announced the final five remaining address blocks (one /8 block containing approximately 16.5 million IP addresses) were shared equally among the world’s five regions.
This event indicates a key milestone in IPv4 exhaustion; the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority’s (IANA) store of unallocated IPv4 address space is now fully depleted and only the regional free pools remain unallocated.
Economic development across the Asia Pacific region ( and galloping demand in counbtries like India and China) is causing unprecedented demand on a key, shared resource – Internet Protocol addresses.
APNIC-- an open, membership-based, not-for-profit organization providing Internet addressing services to the Asia Pacific -- prepared for this event, having achieved a plan for IPv4’s replacement protocol back in 1999 with the release of standards defining IPv6. These plans included IPv6 addressing architecture and a model to cope with the exhaustion of the IPv4 address space.
This triggered a globally agreed policy, developed cooperatively by the communities of all the RIRs. This policy calls for the remaining five /8s to be equally distributed, one to each of the five regions, immediately depleting the remaining free pool.
There was never any question that the global pool of IPv4 addresses was a finite resource. The moment of global exhaustion occurred only slightly earlier than the most recent predictions.
APNIC Director General Paul Wilson said in a telephonic briefing for INDIATECHONLINE, “It’s an exciting place to be at this dynamic time in global economic development. The Asia Pacific community is consuming vast amounts of address space-- almost half the world's total -- as it fuels growth across the region. It is APNIC’s duty to manage the available address space responsibly and equitably for the benefit of everyone in the Asia Pacific.”
Previously low penetration rates for domestic broadband, combined with an unprecedented surge in the rollout of networks providing mobile Internet connectivity, has seen millions more devices connecting to the Internet.
“This region is home to not only some of the largest populations in the world, but also the fastest-growing economies. Nearly all Asia Pacific economies are either in a strong developmental position, or they are accelerating at a rapid pace,” Geoff Huston, Chief Scientist, APNIC added. However, while only about 0.3% of addresses are currently IPv6, nearly 4% are IPv6 capable, he added. He expects the present pool of IPv4 adddreses ( in use since 1981) to work alongside IPv6 for a decade more, at least.
According to current projections, APNIC will make IPv4 allocations from its free pool as per current policy for another three to six months, until the final /8 policy is activated. All IPv4 requests will still be subject to the existing criteria, with the goal of ensuring that the resources are going to the networks that demonstrate need.
Indian Internet providers are the ones who will have to act first in response to the exhaustion of IPv4 addresses -- starting IPv6 addresses alongside the current IPv4 addresses.
Tech note: IPv6 expands the address length of 32 bits to 128 bits.While IPv4 allows 32 bits for an Internet Protocol addresses and can therefore support 2 to the power 32 (4,294,967,296) addresses, IPv6 uses a 128-bit address and the new address space supports 2 to the power 128 (340 undecillion or 3.4×10 raised to the power 38 ) addresses, which is almost an infinite number of addresses.
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