Thursday, 02 July 2015 18:35

North America runs out of IPv4 addresses


ARIN, the regional internet registry for North America, is no longer able to meet requests for IPv4 addresses.

APNIC (Asia Pacific), RIPE NCC (Europe and Middle East) and LACNIC (Latin America and Caribbean) and now ARIN (USA, Canada and certain Caribbean islands) have all exhausted their allocation of IPv4 addresses.

“ARIN’s announcement does not mean the Internet will stop working, nor stop growing," said APNIC director-general Paul Wilson.

"What it does mean is that Internet businesses globally need to continue the move to the next generation of Internet addressing, IPv6, because the demand for Internet addresses is not going to cease."

Where IPv4 uses 32-bit addresses giving just over 4 billion possibilities, IPv6's 128-bit address space allows for 340 undecillion (3.4×10^38) addresses. That's said to be more than enough to give every atom on Earth its own IP address.

IPv4's limitations are overcome to some extent by using NAT (network address translation) that allows multiple devices on a local network such as the one in your home or office to share the single public IP address allocated to the router.

"Rather than investing in technology to help extend the life of IPv4, organisations in the Asia Pacific must turn their investments towards the transition to IPv6 in earnest," said Wilson.

"The good news is that costs can be minimised by planning ahead, for instance by ensuring IPv6 capabilities are gained within the normal hardware and software upgrade cycles."

IPv6 currently accounts for just 7% of internet traffic. Internode, now part of iiNet, was one of the first Australian ISPs to provide full IPv6 connectivity.

Recent versions of Windows, OS X, Linux, Android and iOS all support IPv6, but many of the modems and routers installed in homes and small businesses are IPv4 only.

"Now is the time to be asking those who provide you with Internet services and expertise – whether they are ISPs, vendors, data centres, developers, staff or consultants – how they will support IPv6 services for you in future," said Wilson.

Image: Geoff Huston [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Wikimedia Commons

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Stephen Withers

Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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