The Impending Internet Address Shortage

Sometime in the next 6 years, the Internet will run out of space says Information Week. The impending crisis that many discuss can be easily averted through the migration to IPv6, and sooner rather than later.IPv4 allows for over 4 billion (2^32) Internet addresses with only 19% of the IPv4 address space remaining. Somewhere around 2012-2013, the last Internet address bloc will be assigned and the Internet will be full, in a manner of speaking. IPv6 promises some 16 billion-billion possible addresses (2^128).”We must prepare for IPv4’s depletion, and ARIN’s resolution to encourage that migration to IPv6 may be the impetus for more organizations to start the planning process,” said John Curran, chairman of ARIN’s Board of Trustees, in a statement.The Information Week article covers a number of issues. One is that holders of IP address blocs awarded during the Internet’s early days may be sitting on a gold mine because they’re not bound by an ARIN contract, they’re theoretically free to sell their IP numbers. They haven’t done so because, among other things, there’s no money in it at the moment. But if the IPv6 migration continues to lag and IP addresses become scarce, holders of legacy IP address blocs could find it profitable to sell their numbers.One of those who has attained an IP address block and not bound by an ARIN contract is Karl Auerbach who notes the legal status of IP numbers remains muddy. Auerbach supports making a legitimate market for IP address space, and that IPv6 transition won’t be easy.The article concludes noting “One controversial method for dealing with the IP address shortage has been the increasing use of Network Address Translation (NAT), which effectively creates a private network within a given IP address. … So perhaps the Net of the future might evolve as an IPv4 public mesh connecting private spaces behind NATs. For that we have enough IPv4 space for decades.” The article notes this scenario runs into trouble when those private spaces try to directly interconnect.

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