Engineer internet

Is black market for IPv4 blocks imminent?

Whilst I was on holiday the IPv4 Exhaustion counter ticked down another digit to 5% or 14 /8 blocks .

Nov 16 2009 10% – dropped through 400,000,000 mark
Jan 20th 9%
Feb 25th 8%
May 10th 7%
June 2nd 6%
August 5%

Currently we seem to be using a /8 block every three weeks. With 9 blocks left before we are down to the last 5 (at which point IANA will distribute these simultaneously to the 5 Regional Internet Registries) it looks like we have 27 weeks to go to IPv4 Exhaustion.

In my book this is February 2011 and not the June date reported by the Exhaustion Counter on this blog.

Anecdotally there is already a “private” market for IPv4 addresses and at last night’s LINX meeting people already mentioned that availability of free IPv4 addresses was one of the criteria they used in looking at potential company acquisitions. Someone has even already put a block up for sale on eBay as an experiment (now withdrawn).

Whilst the world is not fully up and running yet with IPv6 the situation is not as bad as it may seem. The map below, produced in early 2010 by Timico’s number one peering partner Hurricane Electric, shows that most countries (in grey) have some kind of IPv6 POP.

map of IPv6 penetration globally - click to enlarge
map of IPv6 penetration globally - grey is good

HE have a novel method of getting their partners to test IPv6 interoperability with them – by offering them T shirts. Note the sharp increase in test activity when the TShirt offer was made.

effect of Hurricane Electric T SHirt offer on IPv6 testing
effect of Hurricane Electric T SHirt offer on IPv6 testing

Thanks to HE Director of IPv6 Strategy, Martin Levy for the pics

You can track the actual number of IPv4 blocks available at the IANA website here.

Trefor Davies

By Trefor Davies

Liver of life, father of four, CTO of, writer, poet,

10 replies on “Is black market for IPv4 blocks imminent?”

Certainly do Gazzer thanks – changed it thanks but will leave the comment train as a historical record, an indication of real life change management and as a mark of my gratitude for pointing it out:)

Interesting to note from Nigel Titley’s presentation at LINX70 that 4 our of 5 RIRs have agreed on the policies on how to manage the end of the IPv4 address space. ARIN, the North American registry did not agree and the proposed process has been withdrawn. At this time there is nothing on the table. The issue is how to handle smaller block allocation and aggregation as part of the run down. This is is important to maintain efficiency in the global routing table.

Some questions :
1) Has anybody done a census of the IPv4 sleepers – those addresses allocated to a user but not in use ?
2) How many of the addresses allocated years ago to companies now gone (e.g. DEC) have been returned to the pool ?
3) What would the impact be if jumbo block holders like IBM or the U.S. government (DOD Intel., DISA, etc.) started returning addresses to the pool ?

The following is the easiest to find allocation chart – a link to one that’s more up to date would be welcome.

Thanks Ted
I guess people will be cleaning the database up more rigorously as they start to deplete their own pools. Generally people will be keeping the pools of the companies they acquire (did DEC go bust?).

Other specific reponses welcome here as I don’t have all the answers. That link you have provided is a good one though as you say it is now dated – I have one in the blogroll on

Perhaps someone will read this and update it.

Regarding global policies (Tref mentioned the Global Policy accepted by 4 RIRs and rejected by ARIN), there were a new Global Policy presented in APNIC 30 (prop-086: Global policy for IPv4 allocations by the IANA post-exhaustion). The proposal was rejected. This same proposal (perhaps with some changes) will be presented in other RIR’s Forums (Now submitted in RIPE and possibly in LACNIC and ARIN soon).

Thanks Arturo
I think the world is generally interested in the issue of IPv4 exhaustion and when IPv6 will really take over.

I suspect that there will be quite a few toings and froings in the global internet techie community over the next 12 months which it would be good to keep abreast of.

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