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ICTs for a Sustainable World #ICT4SDG

Contribution Feb 2013 Text Display Screen

Name : ALQURASHI, Mansour
Date : October 10, 2013
Organization : Communication & IT Commission (CITC) / National Committee for Information Society (NCIS)
Country : Saudi Arabia
Issues : Issue 2

Contribution :

Policy regarding allocation of IPv4 addresses is the province of the RIRs, and legacy addresses are not believed to be subject to these policies. Though the RIRs consult and cooperate, they are independent bodies and their policies and procedures are not identical. International public policy principles should be considered a form of guidance for the RIRs and other related international organizations, particularly with respect to the need to align their policies and procedures regarding certain issues.

The APNIC and RIPE NCC RIRs have already exhausted their IANA allocations of IPv4 addresses in terms of being able to freely allocate blocks to applicants. They are now carefully managing their IPv4 reserve. The other RIRs are expected to similarly exhaust their allocations within a few years.

Because of incompatibility between IPv4 and IPv6, parallel operation is required and there will be a need for IPv4 addresses for an undetermined period until a critical mass of web-based services is available via IPv6 addresses. Though migration to IPv6 is gaining speed, the proportion of IPv6 traffic on the Internet remains very small and it is expected to be many years before IPv4 can be taken out of service.

Approximately 40% of the IPv4 address space is legacy addresses which were allocated in large blocks to individual companies and organizations prior to the establishment of the RIRs. This legacy address space is under-utilized and legacy addresses form the bulk of the unused IPv4 address space. A growing market has developed in the transfer of IPv4 addresses between entities and the overwhelming proportion of transferred addresses is from legacy allocations. Some legacy allocations have been voluntarily returned to the RIRs, though it would be unrealistic to believe this will continue to any significant degree. The free market will almost certainly determine how unused legacy addresses will be allocated.

An uncontrolled market in IPv4 addresses could threaten the viability of the WHOIS databases maintained by the RIRs and could also result in scattering small blocks of IPv4 addresses, thereby putting additional load on the Internet routers. This could eventually undermine the stability of the Internet. Such a situation could be mitigated by an international public policy requiring that all IPv4 transactions be reported to the relevant RIRs, including transactions of legacy addresses that are not necessarily subject to the policies of the RIRs regarding transfers, and that transactions be in blocks of no less than /24 (256 addresses).

New entrant Internet service providers will continue to require access to IPv4 addresses for an undetermined time. The cost of transferred IPv4 addresses is orders of magnitude higher than the cost of new addresses from the RIRs and may be out of reach of smaller new entrant ISPs, particularly in developing countries. A public policy should encourage the RIRs to maintain a reserve of sufficient addresses to supply new entrant ISPs.

Legacy IPv4 addresses are predominantly in North America but the need for additional IPv4 addresses is predominantly in Asia and other RIR regions. There are no policies or procedures in place regarding inter-region transfers. An international public policy should encourage the RIRs to develop policies and procedures to enable inter-region transfers. Limiting such transfers to legacy addresses, at least for an interim period until all IANA-allocated addresses (except the reserve) are exhausted, would assure that developed countries are not buying IANA-allocated addresses from developing countries, thereby unbalancing allocations and opportunities away from developing countries.