If you're Joe User, you don't have to worry about IPv6 yet. But, if you own a business in Europe, the Middle East or some of Central Asia, start worrying. RIPE NCC, the RIR (Regional Internet Registry) for this part of the world, is down to its last IPv4 block. And, when those old-style Internet addresses are gone, the IPv4 cupboard will be bare.
RIPE has announced that “The RIPE NCC is now allocating IPv4 address space from the last /8 [address block].” A single IPv4/8 address block consists of almost 17-million addresses. That may sound like a lot. It's not. RIPE is allocating 350-thousand addresses a day. At this rate, Europe will completely run out of addresses on about November 5th.
RIPE is already tightening down on its distribution of its last addresses. “Each LIR (Local Internet Registry) can receive only one /22 (1,024 IPv4 addresses) upon application for IPv4 resources. In order to obtain this /22 allocation, the LIR must already have an IPv6 allocation. No new IPv4 PI (Provider Independent) space will be assigned." In short, all ISPs in Europe and the other areas of the world that RIPE covers must start supporting IPv6 now.
While some companies are finally waking up to the need to switch over to IPv6 addresses, many businesses still haven't started their journey to the 21st century Internet. For those who really don't want to switch to IPv6 yet and have deep pockets, some businesses are selling IPv4 addresses from businesses and RIRs that still have IPv4 addresses to spare.
For the most part though, as Cricket Liu, VP of Architecture, Infoblox, a large enterprise networking companies, observed, "With RIPE exhausting their IPv4 address space, over 70% of the world's population, about 5 billion people, now has no IPv4 addresses available. This will accelerate the growth of IPv6 in Europe, as it has in Asia and Oceania. This also makes implementation of IPv6 in North America imperative, because increasingly, to serve a worldwide customer base, you'll need to provide services over both IPv4 and IPv6. Current estimates project that the U.S. and Canada will run out of IPv4 in less than a year."