IP addresses are probably not a topic that will excite the average internet user, but without them you wouldn’t be able to navigate the internet or read an email or watch a cat video. Most internet users are still using IPv4 to access the internet and due to the way that system was designed it’s got limitations ie. there is a finite number of IPv4 addresses that can ever be allocated. As the internet has mushroomed with more and more people connecting to it the pool of IPs has essentially run out. There is, of course, a newer IP address system called IPv6, but unfortunately a lot of ISPs still haven’t enabled it for their users. While the infrastructure of the ‘net might be available (mostly) over IPv6 these days the only way that things will change is for the ISPs to enable the connections.
Why do I mention this?
Yesterday RIPE NCC sent out a notice to all members to make it very clear that the end of IPv4 was just over the horizon:
We currently have around 1.91 million IPv4 addresses remaining in our available pool. We expect to reach the end of this pool in the next few months, before the end of 2019. Of course, the exact date is not possible to predict as this depends on the rate at which new members/additional LIR accounts are opened.
We have been preparing for this situation for a long time and all the necessary steps are being taken to ensure a smooth run-out. The community discussed the situation well in advance and reached consensus on a policy change that deals with how the RIPE NCC should make IPv4 allocations to members after run-out.
This all means that we will soon reach a point where members will activate their LIR accounts but find that they are not able to receive one of the /22 IPv4 allocations that we have provided since 2012. It is important to be clear that these members will have the same payment obligations as any other member and will not be eligible for a refund of their membership or sign-up fees in the event that they are not able to receive a /22 allocation.
However, they will be eligible to receive a smaller /24 allocation from address space that we recover in the future. These allocations will be made via a new waiting list that will become active after run-out. The time a member spends on the waiting list will depend on their place in the queue and the rate at which addresses come back to us.
To ensure our members remain informed as we near run-out, we have updated the information on our website:
This includes a new page that explains how the waiting list will work:
For the last few years RIPE and other RIRs have been doing their best to ration IPs to make them last that little bit longer. Everyone knew that it was just going to delay the inevitable, but without IPs many companies would be unable to expand their online services.
There are a couple of details in yesterdays announcement that merit further examination:
- New LIRs might not be given IPs, but they will still be expected to pay their membership fees. This is likely to cause headaches, though it should dissuade some people from trying to “game the system” by creating LIRs simply to get “free” IP addresses. At the most recent RIPE meeting in Iceland this year it was clear that the NCC had been dealing with issues surrounding organisations trying to abuse the system and get IPs for close to free. Bear in mind that IP addresses are now a very valuable resource.
- RIPE will be implementing a “waiting list” for IP allocations (they aren’t alone in doing this).