The Council Working Group on International
Internet-Related Public Policy Issues invites all stakeholders to provide input
on international public policy issues related to:
legacy IPv4 addresses, and
transfers of IPv4 addresses
In responding to this consultation, the UK
views public policy issues as requiring input from and decision making by all stakeholders. The UK notes with concern the apparent
duplication that exists in various activities, and believes that new issues
should only be initiated if no other study or activity exists.
The UK’s response was agreed using its
Multi-stakeholder Advisory Group on Internet Governance (UK MAGIG) with
involvement from industry, academia, civil society as well as government.
Unused legacy IPv4 addresses
The existence of IPv4 legacy space reflects
a time in history in the development of the use of IPv4 addresses where the
demand that has existed in recent years was not foreseen. The on-going approach to the IPv4 address management
that resulted in the creation of
the Regional Internet Registries (RIRs),
supported by a multi-stakeholder bottom up community approach, has extended the
repository of IPv4 addresses available to be allocated. That this approach has existed, and has
overseen an orderly distribution of the final blocks of unallocated IPv4
address space, reflects the commitment that RIR communities have shown with regard to
the policy issues associated with unused IPv4 legacy space.
The original approach taken in assigning
IPv4 address resources reflected specific technical drivers prior to the global
demand for such resources becoming known.
Many of the addresses allocated during this period were used in a
private context, and were never intended to be reachable by everyone. The increasing demand for IPv4 addresses
changed the nature of the approach to IPv4 address resource management, for
example with the creation of the RIRs and the policies that their communities
developed to ensure an approach to IPv4 address allocation that suited the
times. The evolution in the approach to
the remaining IPv4 address allocation has evolved as the needs of the times
have evolved. This evolution has extended the lifespan of the IPv4 address pool
and allowed for the growth of the Internet.
Whilst IPv4 address space allocated prior
to the introduction of the current RIR’s may be considered as being from the
same “pot” with the same structure, they are differentiated by the manner in
which they have been assigned and the rules that they follow. It does not mean that legacy address space is
unused; it has been assigned, according to the rules of the time. These rules
have subsequently evolved, as has the management processes.
It is fact that as long as legacy space is
used for the purposes to which it was allocated then no requirement was
identified for such assignments to be considered further. The nature of the management by which it was
allocated meant that putting in retrospective requirements is not possible.
As and when the use of such an IPv4 address
changes from its original allocation, processes exist for such allocations to
be managed by to-day’s RIR rules. In
this way the communities seek to ensure the updating of the rules of
management. This has been successful
with the return of some legacy IPv4 address space to the pool for re-assignment
according to-days policies.
Placing an emphasis on utilising IPv4 legacy
space, whose availability is understandable limited and cannot be guaranteed,
is not a sound basis for maintaining the sustainable growth of IP networks.
Inter-regional transfers of IPv4
In creating the Regional Internet
Registries (RIRs), rules were developed that supported the development of
policies to reflect the requirements of their communities and stakeholders. Such communities and stakeholders are
diverse. This diversity is reflected in
the approach that has been taken in the development of interregional transfer
policies for IPv4.
The diversity reflects various stages of
economic and social use of IP networks, which in turn drives the demand for
IPv4 addresses. Though each RIR was
treated equitably in the allocation of recent IPv4 address space, which
reflected the consensus of their communities and stakeholders, it is the same
stakeholders and communities that decide the inter-regional transfer
policy. The current situation on Inter
regional transfers reflects the diversity of the communities.
The UK believes that only through
engagement within the current policy making processes can policies be properly developed
to meet the requirements of all communities. The focus of public policy for
inter-regional transfers of IPv4 addresses should therefore be support for the
RIR discussions where the communities have identified a need for inter-regional
IPv4 address transfer mechanisms. Inter-regional
transfer is demand driven, responding to the status of IPv4 address
allocation. To date two of the five RIRs
have agreed such a policy between themselves.
Of the three remaining RIRs, two (AFRINIC and LACNIC) are unlikely to adopt
such a policy in the near future. Their communities have shown no indication to
seek such a policy.
RIPE NCC, which serves a region Europe, the
Middle East and parts of Central Asia has held consultations about a proposed inter-regional
transfer policy but to date has been unable to reach agreement The UK therefore
encourages stakeholders (including governments) from across all of the
geographic area that falls under RIPE NCC service region, to contribute to RIPE
NCC’s consultations on this important issue.
The UK believes that policy issues relating
to IPv4 address legacy space and inter-regional transfers are already being
addressed appropriately in the relevant
existing fora and that no further actions are necessary.
With regard to the inter-regional transfer
policy, the UK notes the recent activity undertaken by the Regional Internet Registries
in consultation with their multi-stakeholder communities, and supports this as
the most effective channel through which such policies can be developed and
The UK also believes that the priority in the wider discussion about
address space remains to foster and facilitate the move to IPv6.