What happened to the much talked about IPv4 address crisis?

By on February 18, 2014, 10:30 AM
internet, ipv6, ipv4, networking, ip addresses

Back in February 2011, when the global Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) allocated the last blocks of IPv4 address space to the five regional Internet registries (that further distribute IP addresses), many experts warned of a fast approaching crisis that would severely affect Internet connectivity.

It was believed that the available IPv4 addresses would exhaust within months. But today, three years later, American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) is still bestowing IPv4 addresses in the US and Canada. In an article titled Whatever happened to the IPv4 address crisis?Lee Schlesinger, Network World's former test center director shared his views on how far can we go this way and why the IPv6 adoption rate is still slow.

According to John Curran, President and CEO of ARIN, the organization still has "approximately 24 million IPv4 addresses in the available pool for the region," which he predicts will be handed out by "sometime in 2014". But that doesn't mean the shortage will begin this year, as addresses will still be available to be assigned to operators' clients for a while longer. Moreover, stable networks (that aren't expanding) would easily reuse addresses, Schlesinger argues.

So, what happened to the crisis everyone was talking about? Well, it's just been pushed out due to multiple factors. Schlesinger touches upon some of them, including use of carrier-grade network address translation (CGNAT), carriers directly purchasing IP addresses from each other, and ARIN reclaiming unused addresses.

Coming to IPv6, Schlesinger tries to answer an important question: If this new IP version is better, and has the ability to provide 2^128 IP addresses, why hasn't everyone just switched over to it?

Firstly, it isn't backward compatible with IPv4, and needs to be implemented end to end. Secondly, as John Brzozowski, fellow and chief architect for IPv6 at Comcast Cable puts it: "Service providers didn't want to implement IPv6 because the content providers weren't there, and content providers didn't want to implement it because the service providers weren't there", a classic chicken-and-egg problem.

Despite of all the hurdles, Schlesinger says that there is steady progress in IPv6 adoption and implementation. He supports his argument through various statistics, including a statistical graph from Google, which shows that the percentage of users that access Google over IPv6 has increased over the past few years.

Schlesinger believes that IPv4 addresses will remain in use for some time to come, and concludes by quoting Phil Roberts, technology program manager for the Internet Society, who says, "It takes a while to transition. After all this is done it would be a great graduate thesis for someone to see why it has taken so long".

You can read Lee Schlesinger's full story here.

Header image via Shutterstock




User Comments: 14

Got something to say? Post a comment
Guest said:

As with everything on the net (and realworld) fear sells. Doesn't matter if its IP Address, Religion, NSA rumors, or anything like it, people always respond to fear. Want to be successful? Create a product/service that sells BECAUSE of fear.

Nima304 said:

As with everything on the net (and realworld) fear sells. Doesn't matter if its IP Address, Religion, NSA rumors, or anything like it, people always respond to fear. Want to be successful? Create a product/service that sells BECAUSE of fear.

Well said.

Also, NAT and PAT obviously had something to do with it.

Guest said:

No IPv6 here everything working fine, no need IPv6, its fact

VitalyT VitalyT said:

One reason should be stated - IPv6 doesn't have an easy human-readable form. In fact, I would call it totally unreadable, which in the age of open technologies like HTML 5, is not a good thing at all.

These days when JSON is preferred to XML not only for reasons of performance and java-script compatibility, but also because it is more human-readable, lessons should be learned, people care a great deal about presenting and storing information in the form they can look at and remember.

IPv6 isn't only unfriendly in appearance, it is also not good to be used in the open format at all. There are many UI-s (web-based and stand-alone) when the user is asked to provide an IP address. Asking the user to provide an IPv6 address,...well, awkward is an understatement.

In all, IPv6 looks ugly, cannot be remembered and unfriendly to any UI. With combination like this one wonders - what were they thinking? It's no surprise the adoption is dead slow...

1 person liked this | MrBungle said:

One reason should be stated - IPv6 doesn't have an easy human-readable form. In fact, I would call it totally unreadable, which in the age of open technologies like HTML 5, is not a good thing.

I agree, I wish they would just add another octet to IPv4 addresses and call it good, it would expand the pool by 255 times and would be far easier to remember.

trparky said:

The United States has enough IP addresses in our pool to carry us through to the end of say... 2018. If current growth of the Internet continues we will still have enough IP addresses in our pool, we'll just have to knock a year or two off that projection. Say, maybe 2017 or half way through 2016. The United States has more than enough IP addresses to keep us going for some time.

Europe and other parts of the world is a totally different story. When the Internet was created and we started handing out the IP addresses we were quite stingy when giving them to other parts of the world. The United States is one of the biggest hoarders of IP addresses in the IPv4 world while Europe and the rest of the world got relatively few IP addresses when compared to how many the US holds. There's where we are seeing the problem.

Europe has the issue, Europe has no choice in the matter; they have to move to IPv6 or their side of the Internet is pretty much crippled. So unless we all implement 6to4 to allow United States Internet users to connect to European web site (that's fugly) or finally get on the bandwagon in converting to IPv6 in the US, there will eventually be two Internets; a US and a European Internet with IPv4 and IPv6 being the limiting factor.

LookinAround LookinAround, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Y2K became YIP4

tonylukac said:

My network is now ipv6 with the upgrade to an att uverse gateway. Was down for 8 days but ipv6 wasn't the reason. It's just future shock for the att employees.

lipe123 said:

One reason should be stated - IPv6 doesn't have an easy human-readable form. In fact, I would call it totally unreadable, which in the age of open technologies like HTML 5, is not a good thing at all.

These days when JSON is preferred to XML not only for reasons of performance and java-script compatibility, but also because it is more human-readable, lessons should be learned, people care a great deal about presenting and storing information in the form they can look at and remember.

IPv6 isn't only unfriendly in appearance, it is also not good to be used in the open format at all. There are many UI-s (web-based and stand-alone) when the user is asked to provide an IP address. Asking the user to provide an IPv6 address,...well, awkward is an understatement.

In all, IPv6 looks ugly, cannot be remembered and unfriendly to any UI. With combination like this one wonders - what were they thinking? It's no surprise the adoption is dead slow...

No way the way it looks is fiine, its not that different from a MAC address and its not that hard to write out.

The much MUUUUUUCH bigger concern is that none of the existing routers/switches used by ISP's support it. This means your average little old ISP needs to fork out quite a lot of money to upgrade their equipment to handle IPv6.

No one likes to spend money so nothing will be done till its absolutely necessary

Guest said:

I work on a ISP (Latam - LACNIC) and we are currently deploying IPv6 on Cable (Dual stack mode). We have been ready for the last 6 months but there is no rush beacuse:

IPv6 adoption is on a slow rate because 80% of internet content is not ipv6-ready. Want an example? Twitter doesnt have IPv6.

Youtube implemented IPv6 on Q3-4 2013.

95% of websites are not IPv6 ready.

IANA, IETF, etc need to start putting pressure not on ISPĀ's, but to focus on content providers / mayor website hostings, etc. If IPv6 content goes up, ipv6 adoption goes up.

There is a "legend" that says, in china/japan (I dont remember) an ISP wanted their clients to go forward in IPv6 adoption, so they made a IPv6 Only Geisha website and started the roumor about this site.

Their client calls asking for IPv6 went up 25% in the next 2 months.

Guest said:

About IPv6 being "not readable": You are just not used to it, go ask your aunt/mother/grandmother or anyone not related to IT if they can read an IPv4 address.

You just have to change your mind from a complete address to a prefix. You will be delegated a prefix and your router/pc will append their mac-address to the prefix.

About ISPĀ's routers "not supporting" ipv6: If your ISP equipment does not support IPv6, change ISP.

Most vendors (Cisco/Juniper/Huawei/HP, etc) have been deploying IPv6-Capable Hardware and OS upgrades for like 5 years.

Guest said:

Whatever happened to class E addresses. I thought there was a move to start giving them out somehow?

Staff
Jesse Jesse said:

Where can I buy cables like that?

Guest said:

As with everything on the net (and realworld) fear sells. Doesn't matter if its IP Address, Religion, NSA rumors, or anything like it, people always respond to fear. Want to be successful? Create a product/service that sells BECAUSE of fear.

I agree. However the NSA scandal is fact. And is legitimately something to fear.

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