IPv4 Addresses Dwindling Fast as Final Blocks Soon To Be Allocated

With the handing out of two large blocks of IPv4 addresses to the Asia-Pacific Network Information Centre, a rule has been activated that sees the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority allocating the last of the IPv4 addresses.

These IP addresses, as explained by the Wall Street Journal, “are numerical labels that direct online traffic to the right location, similar to the way a letter makes its way through the postal system. Such routing is generally invisible to users — when they type in www.facebook.com, for instance, they are actually connected to a computer located at the numerical address It is those numbers that are in dwindling supply.”

When the addressing system for the internet was developed in the 1970s, IPv4 was introduced that allowed for about 4.3 billion possible addresses, which was deemed to be more than adequate. However with the number of devices connecting to the internet skyrocketing over the years, something that was difficult to foresee, the available addresses have been depleted to almost none.

For example, the number of available addresses has dropped from more than one billion in June 2006 to just 117 million in December 2010, according to the American Registry for Internet Numbers, reported the Wall Street Journal. With the adoption of IPv6 addresses, there is an almost unlimited supply of addresses.

The addresses allocated this week were the final allocation made by IANA under the current framework and will trigger the final distribution of five /8 blocks, one to each RIR under the agreed “Global policy for the allocation of the remaining IPv4 address space”.

This policy sees one of each the five remaining blocks allocated by the IANA to each of the Regional Internet Registries. After these final allocations, APNIC noted in an announcement that each RIR will continue to make allocations according to their own established policies.

APNIC expects normal allocations to continue for a further three to six months. After this time, APNIC will continue to make small allocations from the last /8 block, guided by section 9.10 in “Policies for IPv4 address space management in the Asia Pacific region”. This policy ensures that IPv4 address space is available for IPv6 transition.

It is expected that these allocations will continue for at least another five years.

For future internet use and the growth of the internet, it is imperative that all members of the internet industry to move quickly towards the deployment of IPv6 addresses.

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