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IPv4 no more
RIPE, the not-for-profit organisation responsible for allocating new IP addresses across Europe, has confirmed the inevitable – we have finally run out of IPv4 addresses.

IPv4 addresses are the 32-bit numbers used to identify devices on the internet, but there are only 4.2 billion of them in existence – so once they’re gone, they’re gone. Living in an ‘always on’ world, it is no surprise that the rapid growth in Internet of Things (IoT) devices, from smartphones to computers, has led to the end of IPv4 allocation. 

RIPE announced this week, “We made our final /22 IPv4 allocation from the last remaining addresses in our available pool. We have now run out of IPv4 addresses”. But the announcement doesn’t come as a surprise. The shortage has been public since 2012 when the RIPE Network Coordination Centre (NCC) reached its final allowance of addresses from the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) – but this time, there really is no more, ever.

This is your final warning
The only IPv4 addresses that will be allocated from now on will be those returned to RIPE NCC, from organisations that have gone out of business or are no longer required by the user. This number is expected at a few hundred thousand per year, which is nowhere near the many millions required by European networks today. Those wishing to be allocated the returned IPs will be placed on a waiting list – so what next?

Despite 7 years of warning, IPv4’s successor, IPv6 has still not been widely adopted with currently just 24% of internet traffic – meaning that the majority of today’s internet still runs on IPv4 networks. American Internet Pioneer, Vint Cerf, urged network providers to “get with the program” last year, 6 years after the launch of IPv6, but the warning doesn’t seem to have made much impact. 

Whilst some of the UK big players such as BT and Sky Broadband have deployed the new standard, sadly the same cannot be said for Virgin Media, Vodafone, Plusnet and many other key internet service providers. 

Auction market
The recent scarcity of IPv4 has fuelled a surge in auction markets, selling unused IPv4 addresses, with pricing ranging from £10-£30 per address – making what once was a free market now worth hundreds of millions of pounds globally. Jake Madders, Co-Director of Hyve commented,

“It really is time for British ISPs to implement IPv6 across the board. We have been warned about the IPv4 shortage for years, but it doesn’t seem like anyone is in a rush to do anything about it. As a company, it is extortionate for us to buy IPv4’s from an auction – at around £5000 per /24 – but until ISPs make the move to IPv6, we have no choice but to continue with IPv4, as this is what is compatible with the majority of the UK’s end-users.”

RIPE hopes the recent announcement will increase pressure on network operators to implement IPv6 – but will they listen?

Has your business made the move to IPv6 yet? Let us know your thoughts @hyve!

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