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When will we run out of IPv4?

A paper by Tony Hain was recently published in the Internet Protocol Journal which sparked a debate on Slashdot. Particularly, Tony’s paper suggested that IANA will run out of IP addresses in 5 years or less.

However, there is another paper written by Geoff Hutson which projects that we have enough IPv4 address until 2022. The differences got most people confused. So who is right?

Actually, both are right, or rather, not too far apart. Remember, Geoff Hutson’s paper looks at the complete exhaustion of IPv4 address by 2022 whereas Tony’s paper looks at exhaustion only at IANA pool. If we examine the IANA allocations, then both of them are (somewhat) consistent with Geoff’s 2013 projection and Tony’s 2010 projection. The explaination for the 3 years difference is actually in the data used for the projection: Geoff uses IANA allocations after 1995 whereas Tony’s uses those after 2000.

But whichever you believe, 2010 or 2013, it is pretty certain IANA will eventually run out of /8 to allocate to RIRs in the next X years. In fact, many are concerned that Tony’s paper will expediate the exhaustion as many ISPs (esp. the larger ones) have not asked for allocation for quite sometime, because they have over-provisioned during the dotcom days. They might not need it for the next one or two years, later but with the alarm ringing that IANA may run out of addresses to allocate, it won’t be surprising that many will start to horde IP address.

After all, when IPv4 address becomes harder to get, don’t be surprised to see people ebay’ing their IP address in the future. (Actually it already happened…)

By James Seng, Vice President

Filed Under


Suresh Ramasubramanian  –  Oct 24, 2005 2:06 AM

so the RIRs

* go out reclaiming IP space more aggressively

* make ISPs in their region of coverage adopt better IP addressing and accounting practices, and teach these (with tools etc) more and more in their tutorials - a lot of ISPs with quite a few /16s to their name still run their IP address accounting off an excel sheet (especially in some countries that have had huge numbers of IPs allocated there and are still complaining that there are not enough IPs, so you need country level allocation of IP addresses)

Tim Ruth  –  Jan 29, 2008 9:56 AM

In this article, it does not discuss about the depletion of IPv4 space. However, it brings you the latest trend of the IP address allocation by country.


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