Today the Number Resource Organization (NRO), the body which represents the five Regional Internet Registries (RIRs), announced the final five remaining address blocks (one /8 block containing approximately 16.5 million IP addresses) were shared equally among the world's five regions.
This event indicates a key milestone in IPv4 exhaustion; the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority's (IANA) store of unallocated IPv4 address space is now fully depleted and only the regional free pools remain unallocated.
APNIC Triggers Final Five Allocation
Economic development across the Asia Pacific region is causing unprecedented demand on a key, shared resource - Internet Protocol addresses.
APNIC and the Internet community are fully prepared for this event, having achieved a plan for IPv4's replacement protocol back in 1999 with the release of standards defining IPv6. These plans included IPv6 addressing architecture and a model to cope with the exhaustion of the IPv4 address space.
Until recently, the IANA free pool had stood at seven (7) address blocks. According to normal operating procedures, APNIC recently applied for two (2) of these "/8" (slash 8) blocks after allocations reduced its
existing regional free pool.
Growth in the Asia Pacific Accelerates IPv4 Exhaustion
There was never any question that the global pool of IPv4 addresses was a finite resource. Predictions for IANA's IPv4 exhaustion have been debated for years, and as it has happened, the moment of global exhaustion occurred only slightly earlier than the most recent predictions.
However, it is safe to say that IPv4 exhaustion has been accelerated by the explosion of economic growth in the Asia Pacific region during the past decade.
APNIC Director General Paul Wilson said, "It's an exciting place to be at this dynamic time in global economic development."
Previously low penetration rates for domestic broadband, combined with an unprecedented surge in the rollout of networks providing mobile Internet connectivity, has seen millions more devices connecting to the Internet.
"This region is home to not only some of the largest populations in the world, but also the fastest-growing economies. Nearly all Asia Pacific economies are either in a strong developmental position, or they are
accelerating at a rapid pace," Mr Geoff Huston, Chief Scientist, APNIC said.
One example is China. The recently published "27th China Internet Development Status Survey Report," produced by the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), shows China alone has more than 457
million fixed broadband Internet connections, yet this still represents an Internet penetration rate of only 34.3% of the population.
Also indicative of spreading trends across the region, China also has 303 million mobile Internet subscriptions.
Speaking about APNIC's plans to control the first stages of IPv4 exhaustion, Mr Wilson said, "Strict allocation policies are in place to ensure IP addresses are available to those with a demonstrated need. However, the Asia Pacific community is consuming vast amounts of address space as it fuels growth across the region. It is APNIC's duty to manage the available address space responsibly and equitably for the benefit of everyone in the Asia Pacific."
APNIC Plan of Action: Exhaustion Stages
The Asia Pacific community agreed to a change in allocation policy once the regional IPv4 pool reaches the final /8 of address space. At this point, all new and existing APNIC Members will be entitled to a single /22 of IPv4 space, if they meet the current criteria.
It is worth noting that due to this policy, the final exhaustion of the APNIC IPv4 free pool is not expected to occur for an extended period of time.
"This policy ensures that every network in the region has access to enough IPv4 space to conduct IPv6 transition procedures, including building new networks. This policy helps to ensure that developing economies in our region do not get left behind in the transition," Mr Wilson said.
According to current projections, APNIC will make IPv4 allocations from its free pool as per current policy for another three to six months, until the final /8 policy is activated. All IPv4 requests will still be subject to the existing criteria, with the goal of ensuring that the resources are going to the networks that demonstrate need.
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