We all know we're running out of IPv4, the old-style Internet Protocol (IP), addresses). If you're in the network business, you know you need to start switching over to IPv6 soon. What you may not know though is that you can still buy IPv4 address blocks even if your region is officially out of them.
Recently, the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) the Regional Internet Registry (RIR) for the US, Canada, and the Caribbean “implemented Policy ARIN-2011-1: ARIN inter-RIR Transfers. This policy creates the opportunity for organizations to move address space between regions and removes boundaries from the growing IPv4 Transfer market.”
"In accordance with Policy ARIN-2011-1, ARIN will now allow transfers of IPv4 addresses to qualified users in the APNIC [the RIR for the Asia Pacific] region, said John Curran, President and CEO of ARIN. This means that carriers, enterprises, universities and other entities in the Asia-Pacific region who qualify will be able to obtain IPv4 addresses from users in North America who may have them available."
The Asian-Pacific region was the first to run completely out of Internet IPv4 addresses in 2011. The last IPv4 address blocks were parceled out to the RIRs by the Internet Corporation For Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) in February 2011.
In an e-mail interview, Curran said that “in the ARIN region any ISP or end-user organization may be the recipient of a [IPv4] transfer.” In words come the day the US and Canada run out of IPv4 address blocks, which is expected to be in early August 2013, they can buy them from other companies not using their IPv4 address blocks or from RIRs, such as African Network Information Center (AFRINIC). AFRNIC isn't expected to run out of IPv4 address blocks until 2019.
Why is ARIN doing this? Curran explained, “While (for example, the World IPv6 Launch Day), it also makes sense for organizations that need a little more time to be able to obtain additional IPv4 address space from those (regardless of region) who have it and may be able to free it up for better utilization elsewhere.”
According to Curran, such IPv4 address “transfers are handled via coordination processes between the RIRs.” Peter Thimmesch, Chairman of Addrex, a global marketplace for the sale of IP number blocks, doesn't think ARIN is quite correct in its explanation of the situation.
Thimmesch said, “Addrex applauds the recent approval of the inter-RIR transfer policy for ARIN’s leased IP number blocks to its members, held under a restrictive illusory services contract, which should enable these to become closer aligned with the rights held by owners of the “legacy” blocks already. Unfortunately there is still restrictions place upon these contracted IP number blocks, which is a small portion of the over one billion allocated-but-unused numbers. It is crucial to the stability of the Internet for market-based solutions to be unimpeded by controls placed solely for the benefit of keeping claimed authority by these few organizations over their members.”
The bottom line: You can still get the IPv4 address blocks you need through your RIR or through a IPv4 address auction broker such as Addrex. Eventually, though, you will need to move to IPv6. Even with a free market to divvy up the remaining addresses there simply are not enough to go around for a world in which more and more people walk around two to three Internet enabled devices every day.
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