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Asia’s internet registry APNIC finds about 50 million unused IPv4 addresses behind the sofa

About three /8’s worth is a decent chunk of the total pool and locals unready to go all-in on IPv6 are hungry

APNIC, the regional internet address registry for India, China, and 54 other Asia-Pacific nations, has found about fifty million unused IPv4 addresses under the couch.

The organisation recently shared an analysis of a 2018 survey of its stakeholders and members, which concluded reclamation of unused IPv4 space should be a high priority because not every organisation in the region is ready to go all-in on IPv6. That spurred APNIC to look for unused IPv4 addresses, and it found plenty.

Around 50 million were allocated under previous policies but have, for unspecified reasons, not been pressed into service. A further 350,000 were issued for reasons that are no longer considered valid. And a further 2.3 million were allocated before APNIC was given jurisdiction of address assignment, but have been unused for sufficiently long that the registry is allowed to hand them out again.

To distribute the addresses, APNIC will add a new IPv4 Transfer Listing Service to its MyAPNIC member portal, and chase members to ask if they’ll relinquish resources that have gone unused for several years. It expects that the addresses it has identified will be either put back into a pool or transferred among members.

The 32-bit IPv4 space has roughly 4.2 billion addresses maximum, so a find of 50 million unused addresses represents just a tick over one percent of the total possible available pool. If carrier-grade network address translation is applied to them all, it could permit hundreds of millions of devices to hook up to the internet using IPv4 rather than IPv6. Which isn’t ideal given that IPv6 has many advantages. But it is handy because some APNIC members still see demand for IPv4.

APNIC says it hopes to have its tools to access the unused addresses ready “by the end of the year”. ®

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