The growing demand for mobile-device Internet connectivity is driving the exhaustion of the IPv4 address-space and increasing the urgency of the transition to IPv6.
In early February of 2011, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) distributed the last blocks of available IPv4 addresses to the five Regional Internet Registries (RIRs). Notably, the Asia-Pacific Network Information Center (APNIC, the RIR for the Asia/Pacific region) is down to its last /8 block of IPv4 addresses and has implemented allocation policies that limit each applicant to a single /22 subnet (containing just 1,024 addresses). Consequently, multi-national companies will simply make requests from the other four RIRs (AfriNIC, ARIN (News – Alert), LACNIC, and RIPE), hastening the exhaustion of their supplies as well.
Once an ISP’s supply of IPv4 addresses is exhausted, it will likely reclaim IPv4 addresses from residential users for more profitable uses. Indeed, AT&T, Verizon (News – Alert) and others have announced that they will cease offering IPv4 addresses to smartphones sometime around the end of calendar year 2011. Although some enterprises may try to postpone the transition to IPv6 by buying IPv4 addresses (Microsoft (News – Alert) recently spent $7.5 million for just over 666,000 addresses from bankrupt Nortel), this is not a viable long-term strategy. IPv4 address-space depletion is inevitable, so the issue is not whether to transition to IPv6, but when.
Thankfully, the transition to IPv6 has finally begun in earnest. Content Delivery Networks (like Limelight) plan to become fully IPv6 compliant before 2011 ends. All American governmental public-facing servers are slated to be IPv6 compatible by September of 2012, and internal Federal systems must use IPv6 by 2014. Furthermore, 256 out of 306 Top Level Domains (TLDs) are already enabled for IPv6.
Those in the process of transitioning to IPv6 can look forward to June 8th, 2011, which is designated as World IPv6 Day. IPv6 Day is a global 24-hour “test drive” of IPv6. Time to hop in!
About Owen DeLong
Owen DeLong is an IPv6 Evangelist and Director of Professional Services at Hurricane Electric and a member of the ARIN Advisory Council. Owen brings more than 25 years of industry experience. He is an active member of the systems administration, operations, and IP Policy communities. In the past, Owen has worked at Tellme (News – Alert) Networks (Senior Network Engineer), Exodus Communications (Senior Backbone Engineer) where he was part of the team that took Exodus from a pre-IPO start up with 2 data centers to a major global provider of hosting services, Netcom Online (Network Engineer) where he worked on a team that moved the internet from an expensive R&E tool to a widely available public access system accessible to anyone with a computer, Sun Microsystems (News – Alert) (Senior Systems Administrator), and more. He can be reached as owend at he dot net.
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