Image: Capcom

Large parts of the Internet still run on IP version 4, which offers about 4 billion different IP addresses for use. For a long time we’ve known that eventually we would run out. For example, RIPE NCC, that manages IP addresses for Europe, the Middle East and part of Asia, no longer has any IP addresses left to hand out since November 2019. The long term solution will be to migrate to IP version 6, but large parts of the Internet are still not quite prepared for that. Meanwhile, if you wanted to start a new Internet Service Provider or build a large new network, you’re simply out of luck… There just are no more addresses available for you.

Perhaps not unsurprisingly, this has led to the rise of marketplaces where you can buy or lease ‘second-hand’ IP addresses. At some of these marketplaces, blocks of IP addresses are traded for around US$20–24 per IP address, or rented out for prices between 20 cents to US$1.20 per month.

Though this does seem to go somewhat against the original philosophy of the Internet, viewing IP addresses as a public resource, perhaps it makes sense. If a domainname like can sell for 345 million dollars (!), then surely a fancy IP-address like must be worth a handsome price!

Source: the Internet Protocol Journal

Image: Thirdman on Pexels

This news may not surprise you. After all, we’ve known for well over 30 years that we don’t have quite enough addresses on the Internet to go with. However, the problem is becoming more urgent: RIPE NCC, the organisation that manages IP addresses for Europe and large parts of Asia, is down to their last few millions of available IPv4 addresses and is expecting to run out altogether by the end of 2019.

RIPE NCC IPv4 address space chart

So what happens after all addresses are gone? If you’re an Internet Service Provider in need of more address space, you’ll be put on the waiting list and if you’re lucky, you may be handed a smaller range of leftover addresses.

For the real solution to the problem, we need to look further back…

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