Saturday 18 July 2015

Internet Addresses Have Officially Run Out

Top Level Exhaustion ….. IPv4 Addresses Allocated for Special Use

When the internet was first developed, it was presumed that around 4 billion unique number combination would be adequate. However, it did not turn out the way it was predicted when tech pioneer Ken Olsen had stated in 1977 that `there is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home’.

With the internet it gave rise to more usage with users getting tech savvy and getting connected to the internet world. Each node of Internet Protocol – IP network like computer, router or a network printer has been assigned an IP address which is used in locating and identifying the node in communication with several other nodes on the internet. An IP address space is handled by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority – IANA, globally, as well as by the five regional Internet registries – RIR, that are responsible in their respective territories for tasks to end users and local internet registries like internet service providers.

 Top level exhaustion took place on 31, January’2011. From the five RIRs, three have exhausted allocation of the blocks and have not reserved for IPv6 transition which took place on 15th April 2011 for Asia Pacific, while on 14th September 2012 for Europe and for Latin America and the Caribbean on 10th June 2014.Internet Protocol version 4 offers 4,294,967,296, addresses though large blocks of IPv4 addresses have been allocated for special uses and are not provided for public allocation.

ARIN unable to Fulfil Allocation of Large IPv4 Address Block

As per Gartner researchers, he states that there would be around 25 billion internet connected devices by 2020 which is more than six times to what the developers had planned when the net went live in 1983. Vint Cerf, the internet founding father clarifies that they were aware of this coming up and had been reading about the drying blocks of IPv4 addresses and for the first time North America has been out of the new IPv4 addresses.

Presently, Caribbean Islands, Canada, North Atlantic and US will be receiving the waiting list from the American Registry for Internet Numbers and has been cautioned that it will be unable to fulfill the allocation of a large IPv4 address block since the address pool has been drying and because of this the ARIN for the first time will be changing its policies on allocation. Though the infrastructure running the internet was made with space for 4 billion addresses, which had seemed a lot at that point of time, however with provision of too many devices coming up, the IPv4 protocol seems to be running out of space.

Initiated IPv4 Unmet Request Policy

American Registry for Internet Numbers, - ARIN, has now initiated its IPv4 Unmet Request Policy and till now, organizations in the ARIN area were in a position of getting IPv4 addressed whenever needed. However, recently, ARIN is now not in a position of fulfilling the requests resulting in ISP which come to ARIN for IPv4 address space are faced with three choices namely-
  • They could take a smaller block, presently ARIN does have a limited supply of blocks of 512 and 256 addresses
  • They could go on the wait list with the hope that a block of desired size would be available sometime in the near future.
  • They could buy addresses from an organization which may tend to have more than their requirement.
Experts have advised those running websites to use the spacious IPv6 specification, though moving could be expensive as well as time consuming. However, most of the large websites had already gone ahead and done so while several smaller ones could be left without much space to continue working. The IP address version which are now running out are utilised by computers in identifying themselves to each other in order to get connected. The old IP addresses comprised of four numbers with dots between them.
IPv6 Picking up Pace
Although being limited to four numbers meant that only 4 billion addresses were available and there are many more devices intending to get connected to the internet. IPv6 is picking up the pace and ARIN has been encouraging organizations in considering using IPv4 addresses.

Supply of IPv6 addresses is enough and is not likely to run out in future. By adopting a much more complex address, IPv6 would be increasing the minimum amount and it has space for 340 undecillion addresses or 340 followed by 36 zeroes, which is adequate for each atom on Earth to be accommodated with one. Those businesses who have not switched so far could move towards the new specification - IPv6.

Being expensive, companies could move towards hardware which would be compatible with IPv6. Should they decide to move over they could end up buying the limited and probably expensive IPv4 addresses that may be left. If users do not move over to the new system, they would not be able to get on the net since they will not have addresses to use and the internet would stop growing at that point. Experts had warned earlier that there were only 3.4 million addresses left in North America and that they would be running out in summer.

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