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RIPE NCC makes statement on IPv4 address space
Posted by: istadmin on Wednesday, November 05, 2003 - 11:40 AM
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There has been considerable discussion recently on the projections for supply of IPv4 address space, with predictions varying for projected exhaustion dates. While supply and demand forces will mean IPv4 address space will never run out, the introduction of new IP device requirements, for example hundreds of millions of mobile handsets, may dramatically increase the pressure on the existing space. The RIPE NCC statement comments on projections based on existing usage.

The RIPE NCC statement reads as follows:

"There have been press articles posted over the past year that make statements about the remaining pool of IPv4 address space. A recent article states there is a shortage and that Internet Protocol Numbers will run out some time in the year 2005.

The Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) do not themselves make predictions about when the remaining IPv4 address space will be depleted. They do, however, report on the rates of RIR allocation of IPv4 address space and on the state of the remaining pool of IPv4 address space.

The information provided in these RIR reports makes it apparent that many of the recent claims regarding IPv4 address space shortage are speculative and are not based on authoritative, publicly available statistics.

The global pool of IPv4 addresses is administered by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), which allocates address blocks to Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) as they are required. The IPv4 allocation unit in this case is the "/8 block", equivalent to approximately 16 million addresses. It should be noted that as of 30 June 2003 the global pool of IPv4 address space contained 91 of these blocks for this purpose.

The RIRs report on statistics regarding IPv4 allocation on their respective web sites and present a "Joint Statistics" report at each of the RIR meetings and at other Internet industry meetings several times yearly. This information is publicly available and provides the most up-to-date statistics on rates of IPv4 allocation. The most recent presentation on this subject can be found here.

This report states that the RIRs have collectively allocated 19.59 /8 equivalents in the four and a half years between January 1999 and June 2003. It also identifies that there are 91 /8 equivalents held by the IANA in reserve for future allocation by the RIRs.

Based on today's total global allocation rate of approximately 4.25 blocks per year in 2002, or 5.5 blocks in 2001, and the remaining pool of 91 blocks held by IANA, it is unrealistic to assume that there is an imminent shortage in the IPv4 address space. Even allowing for a dramatic increase in address consumption rates, it is highly probable that IPv4 address space will last well beyond the two years predicted by some."

This statement does not, of course, include any estimation of the growing number of IP devices that are being deployed behind NATs, as an ever increasing proportion of the total number of Internet-connected devices. This is a factor that should be bourne in mind.

 
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