September 17, 2012, 10:28 AM — RIPE NCC, which allocates IP addresses in Europe, the Middle East and parts of Central Asia, has started to hand out IPv4 addresses from the last block that it holds, the organization said on Friday.
The block includes about 16.8 million addresses. Including a group saved for "unforeseen circumstances," RIPE NCC (Réseaux IP Européens Network Coordination Centre) had 17.3 million addresses left as of Sept. 16.
That may sound like a lot, but the number of addresses available was 20.8 million just 12 days prior, so the organization has a sense of urgency.
"It's the end of an era, and also the beginning of the next stage in Internet history," said Axel Pawlik, managing director at RIPE NCC in a blog post.
RIPE NCC is the second of the world's five Regional Internet Registries to get to its last block of IPv4 addresses. The first to do so was APNIC (Asia-Pacific Network Information Center) on April 15, 2011. As addresses run out, APNIC has pursued a conservative policy, delegating only 9 percent of its last block, it said in a blog post on Monday.
ARIN (American Registry for Internet Numbers) is expected to start handing out its last block of IPv4 addresses next June.
RIPE NCC will also be very conservative when it comes to handing out its last addresses, so that they last for years. Each so-called LIR (Local Internet Registry), which includes operators, can get another 1,024 IPv4 addresses from RIPE NCC. But only if they can justify the need for them. Also, the IPv4 addresses will only be awarded to LIRs that have already received an IPv6 allocation.
With two regions now delegating from their last block of addresses, the need for a move to IPv6 is bigger then ever, according to APNIC. Carriers, network operators and enterprise IT business leaders must understand the urgent need to deploy IPv6 on their networks to ensure that Internet access is available to everyone, RIPE NCC said.
The move to IPv6 adds an almost infinite number (3.4 multiplied by 10 to the 38th power) of addresses compared to the approximately 4 billion available using IPv4, thanks to a 128-bit address field, compared to the 32 bits used by version 4, according to the World IPv6 launch website.
To help usher in the era of IPv6, RIPE NCC staff has travelled the globe to urge governments and network operators to deploy IPv6 sooner rather than later, according to Pawlik's blog post.