October 19th, 2005

When will we run out of IPv4?


A month ago, I mentioned about a paper by Tony Hain regarding IPv4 allocation status. The paper was recently published in the Internet Protocol Journal which sparked a debate on Slashdot. Particularly, Tony’s paper suggested that IANA will run out of IP addresses in 5 years or less.

However, there is another paper written by Geoff Hutson which predicts that we have enough IPv4 address until 2022. The differences got most people confused. So who is right?

Actually, both are right, or rather, not too far apart. Remember, Geoff Hutson’s paper looks at the complete exhaustion of IPv4 address by 2022 whereas Tony’s paper looks at exhaustion only at IANA pool. If we examine the IANA allocations, then both of them are (somewhat) consistent with Geoff’s 2013 projection and Tony’s 2010 projection. The explaination for the 3 years difference is actually in the data used for the projection: Geoff uses IANA allocations after 1995 whereas Tony’s uses those after 2000.

But whichever you believe, 2010 or 2013, it is pretty certain IANA will eventually run out of /8 to allocate to RIRs in the next X years. In fact, many are concerned that Tony’s paper will expediate the exhaustion as many ISPs (esp. the larger ones) have not asked for allocation for quite sometime, because they have overprovisioned during the dotcom days. They might not need it for the next one or two yeaers, later but with the alarm ringing that IANA may run out of addresses to allocate, it won’t be surprising that many will start to horde IP address.

Afterall, when IPv4 address becomes harder to get, don’t be surprised to see people ebay’ing their IP address in the future.

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