They Think It’s All Over. It Is Now. RIPE Allocates Final IPv4 Addresses.

Yesterday it happened. The RIPE NCC ran out of IPv4 addresses. It’s been anticipated for some time and on 25 November 2019, RIPE made their final /22 IPv4 allocation from the last remaining addresses in their available pool.

The IPv4 run-out has long been anticipated and planned for by the RIPE community, the Regional Internet Registry for Europe, the Middle East and parts of Central Asia announced Monday. RIPE attributes the community’s responsible stewardship of these resources to them being able to provide many thousands of new networks in their service region with /22 allocations after the last /8 was reached in 2012.

The final allocation comes after Arcep, France’s Electronic Communications, Postal and Print media distribution Regulatory Authority, last week warned French internet players that with the supply of IPv4 addresses set to run out by the end of 2019 and “it has therefore become urgent, for the sake of competition and innovation, that all internet players switch over to IPv6” with “slowness of progress … especially significant amongst web hosting companies.”

It doesn’t mean there will be no more IPv4 addresses. RIPE will continue to recover IPv4 addresses in the future from organisations that have gone out of business or are closed, or from networks that return addresses they no longer need. These addresses will be allocated to RIPE members (LIRs) according to their position on a new waiting list that is now active.

So while RIPE expects to be allocating IPv4 for some time, these small amounts will not come close to the many millions of addresses that networks in the region need today. Only LIRs that have never received an IPv4 allocation from the RIPE NCC (of any size) may request addresses from the waiting list, and they are only eligible to receive a single /24 allocation.

This final allocation from RIPE only highlights that the global exhaustion of the remaining IPv4 addressing space is coming nearer. In recent years, RIPE note they’ve have seen the emergence of an IPv4 transfer market and greater use of Carrier Grade Network Address Translation (CGNAT) in their region. There are costs and trade-offs with both approaches and neither one solves the underlying problem, which is that there are not enough IPv4 addresses for everyone.

Without wide-scale IPv6 deployment, there is the risk of heading into a future where internet growth is unnecessarily limited – not by a lack of skilled network engineers, technical equipment or investment – but by a shortage of unique network identifiers. There is still a long way to go, and RIPE is calling on all stakeholders to play their role in supporting the IPv6 roll-out.

As the growth of internet connected devices around the world continues, so too does the demand for internet protocol addresses. Every computer, mobile phone, and any other device connected to the Internet needs a numerical IP address in order to communicate with other devices, explains the Internet Society. So while global IPv6 traffic has grown more than 5000% since World IPv6 Launch, a programme designed to stimulate uptake of IPv6, began on 6 June 2012, there is still a lot of work to be done. For example, less than a quarter of the Alexa Top 1000 websites are currently reachable over IPv6.