In a public ceremony in Miami, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority handed out the last five remaining IPv4 address blocks to five regional organizations. The IPv6 transition has begun.
The gradual transition to IPv6,
or Internet Protocol version 6, has officially begun, with the distribution of
the last five remaining IPv4 address blocks to each regional organization
overseeing the net-address assignments.
The official distribution
took place in a ceremony Feb. 3 in Miami to mark the occasion. AfriNIC, the RIR
(regional Internet registry) that oversees IP-address allocation in Africa,
received the first of the remaining IPv4 blocks, followed by the APNIC (Asia
Pacific Network Information Center), ARIN (American Registry of Internet Numbers),
and (LACNIC) Latin American and Caribbean Internet Addresses Registry. The RIR
for Europe and Middle East, RIPE NCC, received the final block, 185/8, marking
the end of available addresses under the current IPv4 system.
"A pool of more than 4
billion Internet addresses has just been emptied this morning-completely
depleted," said Rod Beckstrom, president and CEO of ICANN (the Internet Corporation
for Assigned Names and Numbers) on a panel at a press conference following the
ceremony. "There are no more," he said.
Raul Echeberria, chair of the Number
Resource Organization, Lynn St. Amour, president and CEO of the Internet
Society, and Olaf Kolkman, chair of Internet Architecture Board joined
Beckstrom on the panel.
requested and received two blocks
of addresses from IANA (the Internet Assigned
Numbers Authority) Feb. 1. The assignment triggered an ICANN rule that when
only five blocks of addresses remain in the centralized pool, they will be
automatically assigned to each RIR.
Each regional authority has
its own policies and rules for how these addresses will be allocated, and each
region will run out at different times, according to St. Amour. North America's
fresh supply of IPv4 addresses will probably last only three to nine months,
said John Curran, president and CEO of ARIN.
Faced with explosive
in the Asia-Pacific region, APNIC is also expected to run fairly
quickly through the blocks it received earlier this week; this will prompt the
organization to implement new rules.
APNIC will restrict address
assignments to the "smallest allocations" to ensure the final block lasts five
to 10 years, said Paul Wilson, APNIC's director general. "The transition to
IPv6 should be well under way by then," he said at the press conference.
Although the IPv4 address
exhaustion was long anticipated, it marked the end of the existing system, Kolkman
said, adding, "Next week, the Internet won't be significantly different from
today." He likened the situation to running out of license plates. "We
will still drive," he said.
, Google's current chief Internet evangelist and the "father of the
Internet," selected the 32-bit system in 1977 because he thought a pool of 4.3
billion possible IP addresses would be "enough to do an experiment," according
to Beckstrom. Not only has the experiment not ended, there are more
possibilities, including refrigerators that send out alerts when a family is out
of milk and cars that are wireless hotspots on wheels, Beckstrom said.
With the depletion of IPv4
addresses, the next batch of addresses that will be available from IANA will be
IPv6 addresses, which use the 128-bit system and have more than 340 undecillion
The transition was a
"generational" change, said St. Amour. "The previous generation won't go away,
and it will still have a lot to contribute, but the future is IPv6," she said.
Citing no "imminent danger"
to the Internet, Kolkman said devices with IPv4 would be around for at least a
decade or two but that IPv6 will account for a majority of the systems within a
decade. It will take time for legacy systems to migrate, he said.
The rate of IPv6 adoption
hasn't been as fast because "there have still been IPv4 addresses," Echeberria
said. However, IPv6 requires investment and effort, he said.
"Ordinary users shouldn't
notice the transition
," as it will be the responsibility of the network operators,
Kolkman said. Most devices are already IPv6-capable, he said.
While there are
approximately 2 billion people online, there are "not enough addresses" in the
IPv4 system to bring the remainder of the 6 billion online, Kolkman said. The
next 2 to 3 billion people who will be coming online will run IPv6 only, and
businesses and services that don't make the transition to the new address system
"won't be able to do business" with them, he said.
Internet stakeholders, such
, need to shift to IPv6 or face the prospect of not reaching
their citizenry, said Echeberria.
There is no extra cost for
organizations to switch to IPv6, organizations have known about it, and "we've
been doing deployments already," said ARIN's John Curran. Turning on IPv6
doesn't cost more, since it's "usually just a configuration change" and it's
part of the normal business costs of new deployment, he said. Organizations
have to switch to thinking about IPv6 and including it in the normal course of
planning new projects, he said.
"The question is not what's
the cost of doing IPv6, but what's the cost of not doing IPv6," said Adiel
Akplogan, AfriNIC's CEO.