WE'VE CHECKED the shelves, we've checked the stock room, heck, we've even checked the sofa cushions, and it's true - the IPV4 numbers are dry.
On Monday afternoon, RIPE NCC, the European Internet Registry, announced that it had allocated its last batch of previously unallocated IPV4 addresses to an ISP, bringing the supply of fresh combinations to an end. We've known it was coming - in fact it has been sounding the alarm since all the way back in 2012.
It's important to note that this doesn't mean that the internet will fall over any time soon. Individual ISPs will still have a supply of numbers to generate, but once they're gone, new ones will come from ‘returns' of unused numbers, either caused by an excess or perhaps the collapse of an ISP and sold in a marketplace format, rather than direct from RIPE NCC.
Trade-in 'used' IPv4 addresses is already rife with RIPE NCC reporting that 12,247,168 addresses were transferred between ISPs in 2018 alone, and that's just in the European region. The price of such used addresses is starting to rise and may begin to impact on end-user costs.
Nikolas Pediaditis, Registration Services and Policy Development manager at the RIPE NCC commented: "With IPv4 exhaustion, we risk heading into a future where the growth of our Internet is unnecessarily limited - not by a lack of skilled network engineers, technical equipment, or investment - but by a shortage of unique network identifiers. Therefore, we call on all stakeholders to play their role in supporting the roll-out of IPv6."
IPv6 has been the replacement for IPv4 for some time and promises hundreds of years of new addresses, but uptake has been slow with most UK ISPs missing self-imposed deadlines for rollout.
Rumours abound that Three's home broadband service can use IPv6, but even that appears to be a limited test rollout. BT had previously said that it would switch on IPv6 by the end of 2018, but that hasn't happened either. μ
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