IPv4 rationing kicks into high gear in Asia

Three blocks of IPv4 addresses will be assigned to Asia-Pacific Network Information Center in coming days, but the agency reiterates that migrating to IPv6 is still the "only means" for sustainable Web growth.

The Asia-Pacific Network Information Center (APNIC) has received two large blocks of IPv4 addresses with another promised to it, giving businesses in the region that are in the midst of their IPv6 migration somewhat of a breather. However, this is mere respite and the agency is urging the Internet community to heed its migration call.

According to an IDG News Service report, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) had given the last two on-demand lots of addresses to APNIC on Monday because of its rapid rate of handing out Web addresses.

This, in turn, leaves the IANA with its remaining last five blocks of addresses, thus activating a rule that compels the IANA to allocate one block to each of the Regional Internet Registries (RIR)--one of which is APNIC--within the next few days, the report noted.

The RIRs will then funnel these addresses down to Internet service providers (ISPs) and companies within their respective regions. Each block contains 16 million addresses, IDG stated.

Migration gripes
Predictions and warnings about the dwindling of IPv4 addresses have been going on for years, but the challenges of transitioning to IPv6 have held back progress, commented an analyst.

Ovum's senior consultant Craig Skinner said that one reason for IPv6's lack of popularity is because there's a lack of compatibility between the two protocols. He pointed out that IPv6 had been deployed as early as 1999, but its lack of ubiquity today is down to its not being able to support its predecessor.

"This makes the transition difficult and it will therefore be necessary to simultaneously maintain IPv4 and IPv6 for many years and to provide solutions for interworking during the transition period," he noted.

Additionally, an earlier report revealed that countries and organizations are less than keen about migrating to the new protocol due to the high costs involved and its lack of vision for future Internet development.

"IPv6 addresses were designed as the solution to the predicted shortage of IPv4 addresses, but as an industry, it has been easier to extend usage of IPv4 rather than undergo the challenge of transitioning to IPv6," Skinner surmised.

Technologies such as dynamic host configuration protocol (DHCP) and network address translators (NATs), which allow for sharing of public IP addresses within a pool of users, have helped in prolonging IPv4's longevity, the analyst added.

There are limitations to these technologies, though.

NATs, for instance, can break end-to-end communications principle of the Internet, causing complications for developers, particularly those working in VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol), video conferencing and P2P (peer-to-peer) arenas, Ovum stated.

As such, migration to IPv6, painful though it might be, is still the most viable option to maintain the Internet's well-being, APNIC stated.

The agency said: "IPv6 is the only means available for the sustained ongoing growth of the Internet, and we urge all members of the Internet industry to move quickly towards its deployment.


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