Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Market for IPv4 Addresses?

Now that IPv4 addresses are about to run out, what will people do after the address pool is completely empty? I recently read an interesting article speculating about what sort of IP address market might emerge.

The article made a number of interesting points that I mostly agree with. For example, most IP addresses go to consumer ISPs, not content providers. ARIN might stop giving out addresses to end-user ISPs before they stop giving them to data centers, simply because this would defer catastrophe. In any case, this explains why there is a serious 3-phase Comcast IPv6 trial, while most of the U.S. seems to be ignoring IPv6.

The author argues that a black market would be unlikely. The main argument is that big users like Comcast, which are responsible for most of the demand for addresses, would never pay very much per address. It just wouldn't be economical compared to IPv6 or even evil NAT.

The most interesting thought was, "I wouldn't be surprised if, when the IPv4 address supplies have run out, people will simply usurp address space that appears to be unused." I had never thought of this before, but it seems likely to me that someone might at least try this, especially in areas of the world that are particularly stressed for addresses.

In a year or two, I suppose we'll see what happens.

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