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IPv4 Addresses: Suddenly a Hot Commodity

Now that the Internet’s inventory of 4.3 billion IPv4 addresses is finito, the value of addresses in use could go from, well, zero to something more than zero (see Final IPv4 Addresses Are Meted Out).

Mike Capuano, Cisco’s director of service provider architecture and network marketing, says he heard — anecdotally, mind you — that some ISPs in dire need of IPv4 addresses may be willing to pay as much as $50 an address.

His larger point: “There is now an economic incentive to move to IPv6.” Before the IPv4 address pool was fully drained, Capuano says, “there was never enough of a carrot or stick to move to v6.”

The American Registry for Internet Numbers — which is responsible for allocating IP addresses in North America — still has several million IPv4 addresses left in its possession, enough to last another six to nine months.

ARIN gives out IP addresses based on need. But how does it ensure ISPs aren’t just stockpiling the last of the IPv4 space?

ARIN president and CEO John Curran says it’s very difficult for network providers to fraudulently claim IPv4 addresses, because they have to prove — through simple Internet tests — that their current addresses are in use. Plus, abuse of the numbering system provides justification to pull back all of the offending party’s addresses.

In general, Curran is surprised at how many Internet service providers remain unprepared for IPv6, and he warns that they will find themselves unable to grow their businesses if they don’t get on the stick.

“For some reason, despite 20 years of planning, a lot of organizations don’t seem to know this is happening,” he said. “Some network operators looked at IPv6 as a science project… Hopefully, this little wakeup call will get their attention.”

In other IPv6 news: SCTE today announced a webinar, “Migration to an IPv6 Infrastructure,” and the reprise of a seven-week online course, “IPv6: Impact on Cable Networks,” that begins April 4, 2011. SCTE previously offered the latter last year.