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Iana allocates final IPv4 address blocks

The authority that allocates IP addresses has given the final five blocks of IPv4 addresses to regional internet registries, prompting Icann to urge businesses to be IPv6 ready
Written by Tom Espiner, Contributor

The body that controls the allocation of IP address blocks to regional internet registries has handed out the last blocks of Internet Protocol version 4 addresses.

Rod Beckstrom Icann

Rod Beckstrom, chief executive of Icann, has urged business to be ready for IPv6 now the last blocks of IPv4 have been handed out. Photo credit: Icannphotos

Businesses must be prepared to shift networking equipment so it can handle both IPv4 and IPv6 traffic, according to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann).

Icann said on Thursday that the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (Iana), which is part of Icann and responsible for the allocation of internet protocol resources, had given out the last blocks of IPv4 addresses to regional internet registries (RIRs).

"This is one of the most important days in internet history," Rod Beckstrom, Icann chief executive, told a news conference on Thursday. "The pool of four billion [IPv4] internet addresses has been emptied this morning — there are no more."

Internet protocol version 4 (IPv4) is currently the main protocol for relaying packets of data around the internet. Internet protocol addresses are numerical labels assigned to devices that access the internet.

Beckstrom told ZDNet UK that businesses need to make sure that their systems are optimised both for IPv4 and its successor protocol, IPv6.

"Businesses have certainly had time [to prepare]," said Beckstrom.

This is one of the most important days in internet history
– Rod Beckstrom, Icann

Icann has been warning businesses about the depletion of IPv4 addresses for a number of years. The Ripe NCC regional internet registry told ZDNet UK on Tuesday that it expects to have given out the last European IPv4 addresses by September.

Icann has no hard figures for the numbers of businesses that are now IPv6-ready, but Beckstrom said that Icann had seen an appreciable jump in the amount of IPv6 traffic to its website.

Businesses should be wary of offers of IPv4 addresses from unaccredited sources, as there is a potential for a black market to spring up, said Beckstrom.

"There will be people trying to take advantage of the situation to profit and to make money — caveat emptor," said Beckstrom. "Businesses should only deal with reliable ISPs, and the regional internet registries [for recycled IPv4 addresses]."

World IPv6 Day

Organisations including Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Akamai and Limelight Networks will perform a major test of IPv6 on 8 June. The aim of the test is to encourage ISPs, web companies and other organisations to prepare services for IPv6. The event, World IPv6 Day, is being co-ordinated by the Internet Society.

"The notion is of a rigorous test of services that are already enabled," Internet Society chief executive Lynn St Amour told ZDNet UK. "[The test will] bring more attention to IPv6 and facilitate trials on a global level."

Olaf Kolkmann, chairman of the internet architecture board of the non-profit Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), said at the press conference that organisations that switched to IPv6 would ultimately be more competitive.

"In the long term, the application providers and their clients that use IPv4 addresses are likely to encounter issues because of the many [workarounds] needed to keep those apps running," said Kolkmann. "Meanwhile, applications that can communicate over IPv6-enabled networks will be more likely to encounter transparent end-to-end communication, enabling the continued development of innovative applications and services."

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