APNIC close to completing delegation of its final /8 IPv4 block

Asian internet registry still has 5M 32-bit addresses from different sources – or practically infinite IPv6s

The Asia-Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC) on Monday announced it is close to delegating the last IPv4 addresses in its final /8 block, bringing the regional internet registry a step closer to IPv4 exhaustion.

There are 16,777,216 total IPv4 addresses in each /8 block – the largest type of block into which the IPv4 address space is divided by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority. Delegation of resources from APNIC's last such block, 103/8, commenced in April 2011.

Before the internet registry started delegating resources from 103/8, community members anticipated exhaustion of IPv4 addresses. At that time, APNIC adopted a policy that its members could each receive a smaller /22 block of IPv4 addresses – representing 1,024 unique addresses – from 103/8, then later reduced that allocation to the 512 total addresses in a /23 block.

On Monday, APNIC registration services manager and east Asia liaison officer Guangliang Pan wrote that just 30,976 addresses remained available to delegate from 103/8.

Pan anticipated they'll all be gone by the end of the week, meaning the registry's last fresh, never-before delegated, 103/8 IPv4 addresses are about to be deployed.

If you need more IPv4, though, don't panic! APNIC still has 5,071,616 IPv4 addresses in its available and reserved pools, meaning although it is close to handing out the last addresses in that 103/8 block, it has millions of IPv4 addresses kept in reserve or reclaimed from other blocks. IPv4 addresses are also widely traded and/or leased, if you need one.

Pan wrote that the registry "will still have IPv4 address space to delegate for another five years" but added "the exhaustion of 103/8 is yet another reminder that it is time to start deploying IPv6, if your organization has not yet done so."

Before anyone says it: yes, El Reg will get IPv6 Real Soon Now™.

The IPv4 address space uses 32-bit numbering, so only ever offered 4,294,967,296 unique addresses – which used to sound like a lot. IPv4 was developed in 1980 – when the prospect of four billion or so devices on the internet seemed remote.

As time went on and it became clear that many many billions of devices would require internet connectivity, work started on IPv6. That standard employs 128-bit numbering, so it offers 3.40282366920938463463374607431768211456 × 10^38 total addresses.

That's 340 undecillion and plenty of change – there are not that many stars in the Milky Way. Competition for all those undecillions of IPv6 addresses is not fierce – partly because there are so many of them they're essentially infinite.

Even so, plenty of IPv4 users would rather persist with the old protocol using tricks such as network address translation (NAT) rather than embark on the process of re-platforming their networks.

IPv4 won't be switched off or cancelled, so persisting with it will be possible for the foreseeable future – but IPv6 is clearly the future. When you go there is up to you. ®

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