APNIC, the regional registry, has found 50 million unused IPv4 addresses. How will they be reassigned?
Billions of devices worldwide are hooked to the Internet by the fourth version of Internet Protocol—the IPv4. The network registries which allocate and register IP addresses have noticed the shortage of IPv4 addresses and the problems it might cause shortly. The continued promotion and request to the registry organization members to switch to the more reliable and advantageous IPv6 addresses is futile. Asia's internet registry for China, India, and other Asia-Pacific countries (APNIC) has collected the unused IPv4 addresses and the total tally is an overwhelming 50 million. According to a survey conducted by them in 2018, most members are requesting to reclaim the unused IPv4 addresses.
As per the analysis of the 2018 survey, APNIC has found that IPv4 addresses are not used due to the following reasons:
· Most of the addresses are unused due to unspecified and unknown reasons.
· An additional 350,000 IPv4 addresses which were allocated are no longer in use and are invalid URLs.
· And, another 2.3 million addresses, which were distributed even before APNIC was the authority to register networks in the Asia-Pacific regions, are available to reassign but are not managed at present.
Reclaiming and reassigning unused IPv4 addresses
APNIC conducts a survey once every two years to gather the views and expectations of its members and stakeholders. The survey results are then analyzed by the Executive Council (EC) and the Secretariat of APNIC. In the 2018 survey conducted by APNIC, it is evident that even though APNIC is promoting the use of IPv6 addresses to its members, members are not willing to deploy the upgraded IPv6 addresses in their organizations. Hence, along with the promotion of IPv6 addresses, APNIC needs to continue its support in managing and distributing the IPv4 addresses.
With organizations having deployed mostly IPv4 addresses, the address pool is getting depleted and is a major concern for APNIC. The members responded to the inquiry made by APNIC on how to mitigate the depletion of IPv4 addresses, and the top responses were:
· Most of APNIC’s members, nearly 57%, want to reclaim the unused IPv4 addresses.
· The other 54% want to monitor the already distributed IPv4 addresses and report the usage of these addresses.
· And, another 52% suggested that an incentive system be put in place by APNIC and encourage members to return the addresses, if unused, and enjoy the incentives.
It is a clear indication that most of the APNIC members want to reclaim the unused IPv4 addresses and the Secretariat was assigned the task to reclaim the addresses on priority. The unused IPv4 addresses were defined with a /24 prefix length (known as Slash Notation) and to regulate if a subnetwork if not needed anymore. APNIC would then contact its member who was provided with this delegation, and if the prefix was not visible in the routing system configured globally. Through this system, Geoff Huston who is an APNIC Chief Scientist presented an analysis of the routing study. In this analysis, it is evident that the IPv4 address pool which is allocated but unadvertised is supposedly around 50 /8s and is making an upward journey at a slow pace.
The unassigned and unadvertised IPv4 addresses may be reassigned by these actions:
· The 350,000 addresses under five years, last /8 policy, will be returned to the address pool.
· The 50,000,000 addresses over five years distributed by APNIC will either be transferred or returned to the address pool.
· The historical 3,400,000 addresses will be transferred, returned to the pool, or managed by APNIC.
With nearly 4.2 billion available 32-bit IPv4 addresses, the find of 50 million IPv4 addresses is just over one percent of the available addresses pool. Even though the successor protocol—IPv6 has many advantages over IPv4 addresses, it is to be noted that most APNIC members still demand IPv4 addresses for configuring their devices. So, if carrier-grade network address translation is applied to the available unused IPv4 address pool, then millions of devices can be configured to connect to the internet.
APNIC is confident that the unused IPv4 addresses will be put into use again by either distributing among its members or will again be included in the address pool for use in the near future. To achieve this, it has chalked out plans to add a new IPv4 Transfer Listing Service to its member portal-MyAPNIC. Additionally, it wishes to inform its member organizations to give back the unadvertised addresses. The reassigned IP addresses cannot be distributed and reassigned at the moment and will be available only at the end of the year. You can follow the APNIC 50 conference or the APNIC blog to know the progress.