Internet Samurai Selling 14,700,000 IPv4 addresses worth $300m-plus
Japan’s father of the Internet, Jun Murai, stated that over 14 million IPv4 addresses are going on sale. He expects the deals to generate over $300 million and will donate all the proceeds to projects he believes will benefit from the additional funds.
Commercial activity to boost internet development
The revenue generated from the sale will also go towards the expansion of IPv6, the replacement protocol for IPv4. According to Murai, the goal of this move is to aid internet development in Asia-Pacific regions. The WIDE Project, a Japanese-based internet initiative, owns 87.5% of the IPv4 addresses in the sale.
Asia-Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC) and WIDE Project set up a trust to manage the transactions. Due to the lack of availability of IPv4 addresses, each one has a market value of $20 - $30. As Murai owns seven-eighths of the /8 address block (14.7 million addresses), the sale should generate $294 million - $441 million. The coronavirus pandemic increased the demand for these addresses due to the surge in online activity. Both the WIDE Project and APNIC won’t benefit from the transactions.
Spotlight on Murai, APNIC, and Wide Project
However, this move from Murai, the internet samurai, will attract controversy in the internet community. The five regional internet registries (RIRs), agreed to return extra IPv4 addresses free of cost, for redistribution.
However, these rules don’t apply to the internet samurai, as he acquired the IPv4 address blocks before they came into effect. As a result, he has the freedom to put them up on sale. From historical data, there has never been a block of this size up for grabs. Internet giants like Facebook, Google, along with mobile operators and cable companies will be competing to purchase these addresses. Due to the high demand from customers for these types of addresses, these multinational companies find the sale to be immensely valuable.
Another reason why this move will attract controversy is that APNIC comes under the RIR category. As per the rules in the industry, they have to give away IPv4 addresses for free. Also, they need to treat the Internet’s foundation equally. For several years, APNIC remained neutral about the IPv4 sales market involving brokers. While the association understood that these entities were helping free up addresses, they didn’t credit this type of activity.
Looking at the sale and how much revenue APNIC will generate from this recent move, it is an indicator of the group moving away from their neutral stance.
Problems faced by the market players
For several years, the internet industry has been trying to tackle the IPv4 address commercial market. At present, the lack of IPv4 addresses will reduce the income RIRs receive. If the sale goes through, APNIC will have the capital to focus on internet development.
Murai supports APNIC as he believes the association developed a robust policy framework for handling transfers. According to the internet samurai, it is essential to put the spare addresses on sale as they hold value at the moment. It will help generate capital to fund projects focusing on improving internet connectivity and services in the Asia-Pacific region.
He believes it is essential to make the most of this opportunity, as another one may never come up in the future. Paul Wilson, the head of APNIC, requested Murai to adhere to the rules agreed upon by the RIRs. However, Murai stands firm on his decision to put the blocks on sale.
Initially, the goal is to invest the proceeds and use the returns and interest to support the activities of the trust. KPMG, the global network firm for advisory, audit, and tax services, will be responsible for finding the best way to generate maximum revenue. Due to the worldwide interest and high demand for this block, an open auction seems to be the best option.
Litmus test for essential market figures
Industry players will keep a close watch on this sale, to see how trust will handle the capital they generate. If the new funds go towards reducing the divide between IPv4 and IPv6 while enhancing online security, it will go down in the history books as a success.
However, should the capital increase the remunerations, stipends, wages, and bonuses of the organizations involved in the sale, it will attract backlash from the community.