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Final IPv4 Addresses Doled Out

David Gilbert


Final IPv4 Addresses Doled Out

In a ceremony in Florida yesterday, not totally dissimilar to the scattering of someone’s ashes, the final IPv4 addresses were distributed to the five Regional Internet Registries (RIR) and could run out before the end of the year.

It marks the end of IPv4 and should herald the implementation of IPv6 which will expand the internet address space to 128 bits making room for approximately 340 trillion addresses, which should be enough for quite some time. The implementation of the IPv6 scheme has been less than seamless and Google among others are working on World IPv6 Day which is scheduled for June 8, 2011 – I don’t think its going to be a public holiday though. On this day, all of the participating organizations will enable access to as many services as possible via IPv6 including Facbook, Google, YouTube and Yahoo!

Each of the five RIRs was given approximately 16 million IPv4 addresses by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), to dole out in the coming months. It is expected these addresses will run out by the end of 2011 or early 2012. There are some who are worried that the implementation of the IPv6 system is not proceeding fast enough and that more pressure should be applied to the governments and ISPs.

Leslie Daigle, the Internet Society's Chief Internet Technology Officer, is one of those who thinks more needs to be done. "We hope the milestone announced today sparks other organisations to plan for and deploy IPv6 as part of a strategy to ensure they are connected to a growing future Internet that is as dynamic and vibrant as today's.” IPv6 compatibility is supported in almost all modern routers and end users will probably not notice much difference in the way they surf the web as the change over takes place. Dr. Tim Chown, from Southampton University, who has been working on IPv6 since the mid-1990s, said: ““The challenge over recent years has been for researchers, developers and vendors to standardise IPv6 and produce products that support its use - and most importantly to devise ways for IPv4 and IPv6 to coexist and work together on today's Internet infrastructure, allowing IPv6 to be gradually introduced while IPv4 continues to operate.”

Currently only a handful of UK ISPs offer IPv6 to their customers, and the biggest UK production deployment is on JANET, the UK academic network, and some of the universities it serves. IPv6 deployment is growing, but still in its infancy, and will need to grow faster to sustain the massive demand for new Internet services worldwide.


February 4, 2011, 3:58 pm

While you say the Internet will not grid to an halt, it does create big challenges to new companies who want to provide services over a multi-homed setup (need at least a /22 IPv4 block to be globally routable).

ISPs will be also feeling the heat as well if they want to expand their client base. Putting customers behind a NAT sounds easy, but as most will already be behind another NAT in their own network things just start breaking in unpredictable ways.

At least things are moving. I've been using IPv6 over a tunnel for over 8 years now and finally start seeing more services come online. Still we're far away from having something working, and the next 5 years or so of co-existance should be quite tricky..

Good news at least is that employment for network engineers will surely rise! :)


February 7, 2011, 2:56 pm

I have a very vague and misty understanding of the main article here, and no understanding at all of GK.pm's comment above.

Any chance of an explanation of what any of this means? Should I care?

So far, it seems like I need to worry about this as much as I need to worry about Thames Water updating London's Victorian water mains. Ie the water still comes out my taps without me taking any action, and I have a vague awareness that there's a big company working on the infrastructure to keep this happening, but that's all I need to know. Is that about right?!


February 8, 2011, 3:04 am


For home users I guess it just means you'll get a new router or some plug-in small box within the next 5 years or so.

In the more near future what can happen is that ISPs start placing their users behind special "translators" which can cause P2P stuff

like Bittorrent to suffer a bit, or you'll find that service breaks more often than usual.

Once they finally get IPv6 to you any recent operating system should be able to use both IP v6 or v4 as needed and, apart from older applications, it all should would more or a less automatically.

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