Asia-Pacific Network Information Centre chief scientist Geoff Huston has sought to put in perspective reports that available IPv4 addresses could be exhausted in six months– but says that ISPs must nevertheless begin migration plans immediately.
IPv4 addresses are doled out from a rapidly dwindling pool by the Internet Assigned Number Authority to Regional Internet Registries such as APNIC, which then allocate them within their respective regions. While previous estimates have suggested that the global pool could be exhausted around the middle of next year, American Registry for Internet Numbers CIO Richard Jimmerson has warned that the rapid pace of address uptake has made it hard for calculations to stay current, sparking reports that IPv4 addresses could be gone by year’s end.
Huston, however, said that – while behaviours may change close to exhaustion point – the existing modelling pointed to a less stringent timeframe. “The mathematical models predict that the big central pool at the Internet Assigned Number Authority will run out a little over twelve months from now, in early August 2011, and that the first Regional Internet Registry to run out will run out in early 2012,” he told CommsDay. “The story that’s being quoted from Richard Jimmerson says it’s possible that [IPv4 address space] could run out by the end of this year, and I certainly agree that it is possible, because the one thing that’s very hard to predict mathematically is what one could call panic.”
“It’s certainly the case that half the IP addresses being allocated nowadays are heading into the Asia-Pacific area. It’s certainly the case that the mobile markets have led to a massive deployment of services… yes, this region is growing very quickly. But has anything changed in the last few months? Not really. It’s still the same sets of mathematics and the same sets of numbers… but as we get closer to the date the idea that we’ll all behave mathematically gets a little bit far-fetched.”
Regardless of weeks’ or months’ difference in the exact date of exhaustion, however, Huston stressed that it was still critical for ISPs in the region to get their transition plans in motion immediately. “Any ISP or any large player that is basing their final business plan on knowing the final day when they can get V4 addresses is playing awfully close to disaster! The time to deploy v6 is actually today – or yesterday.”
IPV6 USAGE HIGHER THAN EXPECTED: Meanwhile, APNIC has begun running tests on its own site to ascertain how many visitors are currently capable of using IPv6. It has found that 5.5% of those visitors are already capable of using the protocol – something that Huston attributes to later versions of Windows being capable of using v6, but defaulting to use v4 unless pressed.
“These days, [some] customers, even if they don’t know it, are actually v6 capable, and they’re using tunnelling to get there,” commented Huston. “The very least an ISP can do these days is to help them. The very best they can do is provide native v6, but even if they provide Teredo and 6to4 relays they’re doing everyone a favour.”