ARIN to Consider Looming IPv4 Shortage, IPv6 Transition

With less than 8% of available IPv4 addresses unallocated, ARIN will be holding a meeting next week to consider whether any policy changes are necessary for the transition to IPv6 to occur smoothly.

The meeting, to be held in Toronto, Canada, from April 18 to 21, will consider a number of draft policies and proposals. Some of the topics up for discussion by the Internet community are:

  • Simplifying IPv6 allocation criteria
  • Providing smaller blocks of IPv4 address space
  • Handling IPv4 requests once address space becomes limited
  • Changing the requirements for what information must be recorded in ARIN’s WHOIS database

“The Internet has become an irreplaceable part of how consumers and businesses communicate,” John Curran, president and CEO of ARIN, said in a statement.

“With less than 8% of IPv4 addresses still available, our mission is to consider any policy changes necessary for this transition to occur smoothly, and to continue discussions about this important issue. ARIN XXV will include important discussions on draft address allocation policy proposals, including several proposed changes that may affect IPv6 adoption.”

The transition to IPv6 is also being encouraged by the OECD who noted “IPv6 use was growing faster than continued IPv4 use, albeit from a low base. And several large-scale deployments are taking place or are planned.”

The report noted that “5.5% of networks on the Internet (1 800 networks) could handle IPv6 traffic by early 2010. IPv6 networks have grown faster than IPv4-only since mid-2007. Similarly, demand for IPv6 address blocks has grown faster than demand for IPv4 address blocks. Even more encouragingly, Internet infrastructure players seem to be actively readying for IPv6, with one out of five transit networks (i.e. networks that provide connections through themselves to other networks) handling IPv6. In practice, several indicators are closely correlated and point to the same countries as having the most IPv6 network services. These include Germany, the Netherlands, the United States, and the United Kingdom.”

However the report found “the number of potential users of IPv6 is quite high with over 90% of the installed base of operating systems being IPv6-capable, and roughly 25% of end users running an operating system that supports IPv6 by default in January 2010, such as Windows Vista or Mac OS X.”

But the report also found “actual IPv6 connectivity by users is very low. A one year experiment by Google estimated that just 0.25% of users had IPv6 connectivity (and chose IPv6 when given the choice) in September 2009, up from less than 0.2% one year before. After France, the top countries by percentage of native IPv6 capable users in September 2009 were China, Sweden, the Netherlands, the United States, and Japan.”

The report also noted that “only 1.45% of the top 1000 websites had an IPv6 website in January 2010, but this figure grew to 8% in March 2010 when Google websites were included. However, only 0.15% of the top 1 million websites had an IPv6 website in January 2010 (and just 0.16% in March 2010). A trend may be emerging whereby large websites are deploying IPv6 alongside IPv4, while the vast majority of smaller websites remain available only over IPv4.”

The report makes a number of recommendations, similar to those made in another report from 2008. “In May 2008, the OECD warned that Governments and business must tackle Internet address shortage together. In particular, governments and business needed to work together more effectively and urgently to meet the growing demand for Internet addresses and secure the future of the Internet economy by implementing IPv6. Not implementing IPv6, it warned, would impact the economic opportunities offered by the Internet with severe consequences in terms of stifled creativity and deployment of new services.”

“As the pool of unallocated IPv4 addresses dwindles, all stakeholders should anticipate the impacts of the transition period and plan accordingly to gather momentum for the deployment of IPv6 to decrease the pressure on IPv4. In particular, to create a policy environment conducive to the timely deployment of IPv6, governments should consider: i) Working with the private sector and other stakeholders to increase education and awareness and reduce bottlenecks; ii) Demonstrating government commitment to adoption of IPv6; and iii) Pursuing international co-operation and monitoring IPv6 deployment.”

The OECD report is available from:

More information on the ARIN meeting is available from: