AMERICA HAS RUN OUT of internets. From today, anyone wanting an internet in North America can't have one. It's full. Go home. It was nice while it lasted. Read a book.
Well, sort of. The news, which is not entirely unexpected, came as ARIN, the custodian of IPv4 addresses announced it had run out of addresses to allocate.
In reality, there are empty IP addresses - the internet would grind to a halt if there weren't, but this was the symbolic moment where the last IPv4 address blocks were allocated to a specific provider - there are no new ones unclaimed.
Think of it like if a shop ran out of beer - not all the beer has been drunk yet, it's just been taken home to various houses for various people to drink.
But let's not get too bogged down in that metaphor, it's upsetting. The point is that with IPv4 exhausted in the region, and other regions including Europe expected to follow within months, the slow rollout of the new, semi-futureproof IPv6 addresses is now more urgent than ever.
"Today ARIN becomes the first RIR to fully exhaust its stock of IPv4 addresses – another landmark moment in the history of the Internet. This means that organisations across North America can now only obtain IPv4 addresses by trading for them," explains Axel Pawlik, Managing Director of the RIPE NCC, the organisation that brings together the various firms that keep the internet running.
"For networks looking to grow, this will increasingly create pressure in the immediate future.
"With the adoption of inter-RIR transfer policies by the Internet number communities in Europe, Russia, the Middle East, North America and the Asia-Pacific, we’re beginning to see the emergence of a global IPv4 market. We expect that this will result in an increase in IPv4 transfers, but it’s unclear exactly how long this market will last.
"If IPv6 deployment soared overnight, IPv4 addresses would quickly lose their value. Ultimately, when the cost of buying IPv4 addresses becomes more than the cost of deploying IPv6, we will see a major shift towards full adoption of IPv6."
So while the horse-trading begins, in the UK, BT has announced that it will become fully IPv6 ready by the end of 2016, with an aim of 50 percent completion by April.
Users of BT's Homehub 5 will be able to take advantage of the new standard, and Homehub 4 compatibility is being considered. It is down to each provider to offer IPv6 to its users, and it seems to be taking the threat of total exhaustion to make players act.
As the biggest UK telecoms company, it is likely that BT will be the first to feel the pressure of IPv4 exhaustion, where smaller providers will continue to muddle along with their current allocation as long as possible. µ
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