The American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) recently announced that all IPv4 addresses in its free pool are depleted, leaving only IPv4 address blocks remaining. The waiting list is activated and people needing this asset must use the free market to source any addresses.
Why is this important? IP addresses are one of the core pieces of a network – the address dictates where an Internet data stream should go. IPv6 is the replacement, but that standard may not be ready and implemented for a number of years. The industry has known that IPv4 depletion was on the way, so this is not a surprise, but it will most certainly impact various aspects of the Internet.
The Internet was not built for a situation in which all IPv4 numbers would be used – that’s 4.3 billion numbers, gone, when the original engineers and scientists who put the networks together had never dreamed of every IP address being used.
What comes next? ARIN will still be involved, assisting in transfers, returns, and other ways that IP numbers may change hands. But they cannot make up for the shortfall in IPv4 numbers, which will number in the multi-millions by the time IPv6 is ready to roll out.
What was a free product may become something with a market price – people need these addresses, and some may be holding onto them, and willing to put them up for sale, if the reward is great enough. This means the value of IPs may be in constant flux, especially as IPv6 comes closer to implementation. When the new standard exists, formerly valuable IPv4 addresses will not hold the same worth, but it is hard to pin down exactly when that will be.
Prices, so far, have been anywhere from $8 per IP address to $11, and guesses range much higher for the coming years, dependant on need. Experts are predicting prices as high as $26 per IP as time goes on.
Some businesses may be completely caught off guard by this. If you have not budgeted for IPv4 addresses, and do not know where to source them, you have a problem all of a sudden – how are you going to get the IPs you need before IPv6 rolls out?
It’s important to prepare as much as possible for this new world of IPv4 depletion. Start researching how you can get the IPs you need, and come up with a plan to pay for them. The industry will shift to accommodate this change, but businesses must be ready to do their part in solving the problem of IP depletion.