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Whatever Happened To the IPv4 Address Crisis? 574

alphadogg writes "In February 2011, the global Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) allocated the last blocks of IPv4 address space to the five regional Internet registries. At the time, experts warned that within months all available IPv4 addresses in the world would be distributed to ISPs. Soon after that, unless everyone upgraded to IPv6, the world would be facing a crisis that would hamper Internet connectivity for everyone. That crisis would be exacerbated by the skyrocketing demand for IP addresses due to a variety of factors: the Internet of Things (refrigerators needing their own IP address); wearables (watches and glasses demanding connectivity); BYOD (the explosion of mobile devices allowed to connect to the corporate network); and the increase in smartphone use in developing countries. So, here we are three years later and the American Registry for Internet Numbers is still doling out IPv4 addresses in the United States and Canada. Whatever happened to the IPv4 address crisis?"
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Whatever Happened To the IPv4 Address Crisis?

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  • NAT (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hcs_$reboot ( 1536101 ) on Monday February 17, 2014 @11:26AM (#46266871)
    While phones use Internet connectivity, they usually connect through the carrier infrastructure which may only allocate a few (or even 1) IPv4 addresses, thanks to NAT.
  • Re:NAT (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rich0 ( 548339 ) on Monday February 17, 2014 @11:31AM (#46266925) Homepage

    Yup. NAT isn't really too troublesome on phones since they rarely run servers, are usually connecting to cloud-based services, and they move around so much that they'd probably have an IP change every 10 minutes if you handled them like a traditional routable IP.

    If I were using cellular service as my actual home ISP it would drive me nuts, though.

    IPv6 is needed more than it ever was. We just haven't reached the end of v4 yet.

  • CGN, perhaps? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Zocalo ( 252965 ) on Monday February 17, 2014 @11:31AM (#46266931) Homepage
    Just a guess, but maybe widespread adoption of Carrier Grade NAT [] might have given IPv4 a bit of a longer shelf life. It's either that or the kind of fun and games that I once read that Hutchison (Orange) was doing on their mobile network, with no less than seven separate instances of the 10/8 network being juggled around at once.

    Still, even ARIN is now starting to tighten the screws on the size of netblocks they are assigning out, so I suspect providers are being a lot more careful about how they subnet and assign out IP addresses than they used to be. I suspect that just moving stuff like DB servers and other backend infrastructure onto private IP space instead of just dumping them in the DMZ for convenience has helped a bit too, not too mention being a better security practice.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 17, 2014 @11:32AM (#46266939)

    It's only a crisis if it affects you. (sic)

    That's basically what is happening, a giant stand off between the access networks and the hosting providers looking who will blink first.

    From then end user perspective, you should see what happens to Skype and games when both end-users are behind a double NAT, it's hilarious. But most people seem to cope just fine.

    For the hosting providers then fun really starts when you can't get a public IPv4 for your new webserver, that'll be fun. There's no NAT workaround for that, some european hosting providers are already feeling the crunch in their IPv4 blocks, you can only host so many servers. So what can you do? Jack up the prices ofcourse, isn't the free market wonderful!

    If you are a business in the EMEA and you still want or need your own PI space for BGP, tough cookies, you can't get it anymore.

  • by Marrow ( 195242 ) on Monday February 17, 2014 @11:39AM (#46266991)

    and figured out they better find a better solution than ipv6. There is too much ipv4 only hardware out there to abandon it all. It would just be insane.

  • by exabrial ( 818005 ) on Monday February 17, 2014 @11:53AM (#46267143)
    Truth is NAT works just fine for the vast majority of cases, and makes a layered (IE not-eggs-all-in-one-basket) approach to security much simpler.

    The real problem is routing table size with BGP. As we continue to divide the internet into smaller routable blocks, this is requiring an exponential amount of memory in BGP routers. Currently, the global BGP table requires around 256mb of RAM. IPv6 makes this problem 4 times worse.

    IPv6 is a failure, we don't actually _need_ everything to have a publicly routable address. There were only two real problems with IPv4: wasted space on legacy headers nobody uses, and NAT traversal. IETF thumbed their noses as NAT (not-invented-here syndrome) and instead of solving real problems using a pave-the-cowpaths-approach, they opted to design something that nobody has a real use for.

    Anyway, I'm hoping a set of brilliant engineers comes forward to invent IPv5, where we still use 32 bit public address to be backward compatible with today's routing equipment, but uses some brilliant hack re-using unused IPv4 headers to allow direct address through a NAT.

    Flame away.
  • by Chris Mattern ( 191822 ) on Monday February 17, 2014 @11:57AM (#46267187)

    Are you/the article saying that it is possible to have a single connection to your ISP, but for every computer, fridge, toaster, TV, etc. to have its own global IP address?

    Yes, that is exactly how IPv6 is supposed to work.

    Your ISP can give you a block of dynamic/static IP addresses, which your router assigns instead of 192.168.1.X?

    Possibly, but not necessarily even that. You could be set up to simply automatically generate IPv6 addresses from your MACs, and the ISP doesn't even explicitly grant you an address block.

  • Re:Comcast and ipv6 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Aqualung812 ( 959532 ) on Monday February 17, 2014 @12:06PM (#46267265)

    I'm on Comcast, and I'm getting a /60 from them.

    Your WAN interface might be on a /128, and that is fine. You need to make sure your gear is telling Comcast what size of prefix you want delegated to your router.

    Of course, this varies by market, so it might really not be there yet, but read up on prefix delegation & make sure you've got your end setup correctly: []

    Also, don't trust the tech support with this. They are clueless. According to them, IPv6 isn't available in my market.

  • by C3ntaur ( 642283 ) <> on Monday February 17, 2014 @12:17PM (#46267395) Journal

    For the hosting providers then fun really starts when you can't get a public IPv4 for your new webserver, that'll be fun. There's no NAT workaround for that, some european hosting providers are already feeling the crunch in their IPv4 blocks, you can only host so many servers. So what can you do? Jack up the prices ofcourse, isn't the free market wonderful!

    This. This is why IPv4 will stick around for decades to come. There is too much profit potential in it, and IPv6 costs too much money to implement.

  • by Antique Geekmeister ( 740220 ) on Monday February 17, 2014 @12:36PM (#46267619)

    I sat in on a router design meeting for IPv6. It took me 20 minutes to stop laughing when I heard them seriously say that it was acceptable for the system to crash if it encountered a router loop, because users will "just be careful and that won't happen". Then I took the copy of the presentation and my notes to my stock analyst and pointed out "these people ar bozos, do not invest in them or trust anyone who has invested in them". I didn't make money, but it helped keep me from *losing* a good chunk of money when their "Cisco-killer" failed miserably.

  • Re:CGN, perhaps? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DamnOregonian ( 963763 ) on Monday February 17, 2014 @12:44PM (#46267723)
    It's not a superior solution. I'm a senior network engineer at a local ISP. Our infrastructure is IPv4 and IPv6, with a chunk of fiber customers running on CGNAT. We're not even that big, but equipment that can route IPv6 with line-speed forwarding throughout the core and distribution side of the network (as well as supporting the dynamic routing protocols necessary to manage the network) is fantastically more expensive than either purchasing a CGNAT setup, or building one out of Linux (our solution). I can't even imagine the cost for someone with a large network.

    That doesn't even get to the myriad of major problems with customer-facing IPv6. The specification with regard to deployment is frankly garbage (the people who wrote the spec[s] clearly had little background in actual customer distribution networks). We couldn't be more eager to get every single one of our customers running on it, especially given how quickly our ARIN allocations are drying up, and the unlikeliness of people our sized being able to acquire more, short of acquiring the blocks of ISPs that we purchase.

    I think it's really easy for a lot of arm-chair network engineers to scoff at the speed of the ISP-side IPv6 roll-out, but the costs and technical limitations of the spec, which have required many bandaids and workarounds just to make function in a way that could even remotely be called reliable for residential customers, scales with the size and diversity of our customer base. It's a bitch.
  • Re:What happened? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by WaffleMonster ( 969671 ) on Monday February 17, 2014 @01:49PM (#46268455)

    The human tendency for hyperbole happened.

    Or more accurately "does not effect me"

    It was the same for Y2k, is the same for just about every winter season snow storm, and is ceaseless in our politics.

    In the IPv6 case the projections for run out have been right on the money. The only people screaming "the world didn't end" are media people looking to whore hits to their sites. Addressing authorities and publicized events ( IPv6 Day) all included FAQs clarifying the end of the world does not happen at exhaustion.

    Just recently John Kerry referred to man-made global warming as weapon of mass destruction.

    I have a feeling if you were head of state for some dinky island nation in the middle of nowhere and you looked at the projections for sea level rise vs land area of your country effectively consumed or endangered by conditions (tides, storms) you would not be so quick to sound the hyperbole alarm.

    The same goes for small VM/hosting provider who runs out of IPs to assign to new customers... these things are a "big fucking deal" to them but for everyone else it is hyperbole or even beneficial. Climate change has winners and so does IPv4 exhaustion. CGN vendors, competitors who "planned ahead" hoarding more addresses than they were supposed to or those blessed with massive legacy allocations have market advantage with respect to IPv4 exhaustion the rest of us don't.

  • Re:Chicken little (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 17, 2014 @03:53PM (#46269759)

    Another part of the answer...take back the class A allotments that were given to companies/organizations early on. If you're not in the business of using the addresses to help your customers connect (Level-3, AT&T and such), you should be using NAT like the rest of us. I'm looking at GE (, IBM (, Xerox (, HP (,, Apple (, MIT (, Ford (, CSC (, Halliburton (, Merit (, Eli Lilly (, Amateur Radio (, Prudential (, duPont (, Daimler (, Merck ( and USPS (

    Between them, these organizations have almost 7% of the IPv4 address space and all of them have similar counterparts that manage to get by without a block of ~16m addresses. Address space isn't property and should be allocated by the internet community based on the common good. These organizations should be given sufficient notice to ensure that they have enough time to prepare, but they shouldn't be allowed to hold these addresses indefinitely.

  • Re:Chicken little (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RR ( 64484 ) on Monday February 17, 2014 @07:22PM (#46271419)

    Another part of the answer...take back the class A allotments that were given to companies/organizations early on.

    Why does this myth persist? Modded Interesting, even. This proves that education is the major barrier to IPv6 adoption.

    We can't "take back" the class A allotments because there is no "back" to take it to. Those were given by Jon Postel before IANA existed, and IANA does not claim any more legal authority to those addresses than anybody else. It's an unwise investment of limited resources to challenge those companies' legal departments.

    Also, with the rate that IPv4 addresses were being allocated, and the acceleration of the rate before 2011, those addresses would have postponed IPv4 exhaustion by months at best. It's surely not worth the expense to force all those companies to release their class A networks just so we could collectively fail to do our jobs, that is, switch to IPv6.

  • Re:Chicken little (Score:5, Interesting)

    by slimjim8094 ( 941042 ) <> on Monday February 17, 2014 @08:23PM (#46271907)

    Google agrees []. They're probably a bit less US-centric.

    As bad as the ISPs in the US are, we're actually a world leader in v6 traffic. Comcast, Time Warner (the ones I have personal experience with) and apparently Verizon are all doing v6 natively and properly. That accounts for a huge percentage of customers - as they get around to replacing their gateways, it should "just work".

    -- reply ends, general comments begin --

    Just so everybody's clear what I mean by "just work" - when I moved into my new apartment, I rented a modem/router from the cableco (I of course bought my own a few weeks later like a good nerd). Out of the box, it requested a /64 prefix and delegated it to the internal network, including the v6 DNS servers. All OSes made in the last 10 years know how to do v6 properly, so everything from my desktop to my phone to my smart TV can access v6 resources just fine.

    v6 is here. It works great, and you get real IPs! Like, you can actually paste an IP to a friend so he can download a file from your box just like the old days, without doing any NAT port mapping bullshit. Want to play a game, or video chat, or VNC or something? Just open a damn socket, no STUN or UPnP or any other crap.

    I don't get why so many Slashdotters are bitching/FUDding about v6. There's no money in it - all the ISPs are doing it happily - so it's not astroturfing. And the comments don't fit the typical troll model. What gives?

You will never amount to much. -- Munich Schoolmaster, to Albert Einstein, age 10