IPv6 has been a hot topic on BCW in recent months and I thought an update on IPv4 depletion in the region would be beneficial to the community.

As some of you may know, the RIPE NCC is the Regional Internet Registry (RIR) for Europe, the Middle East and parts of Central Asia. IP addresses are passed down to the RIPE NCC from the global coordinator of IP addressing, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) and allocated on need only.

Back in February 2011, IANA allocated the last remaining blocks of IPv4 addresses between the RIPE NCC and the four other Regional Internet Registries (RIRs): APNIC, ARIN, AfriNIC and LACNIC. This meant that IANA’s supply of IPv4 addresses was fully depleted.

In June 2011, World IPv6 Day took place. Organisations around the world offered their content over IPv6 for a 24-hour period. The aim was to test the new protocol and give Internet service providers, hardware makers, operating system vendors and web companies the chance to identify any problems and find solutions in a test environment. The day confirmed what many had suspected, that IPv6 works. Since then, many participants have left IPv6 switched on.

As expected, and due to the fast rate of technological expansion in the region, the RIR for Asia Pacific (APNIC) announced that it had depleted its store of IPv4 addresses in April 2011, making it the first RIR to do so. The RIPE NCC will soon follow, having allocated 11.25 million IPv4 addresses since World IPv6 Day, leaving only 65 million remaining.

Although this may seem like a large number, IPv4 resources in the region are forecast to be fully depleted by the first half of 2012. LACNIC and ARIN are in similar positions to the RIPE NCC, with AfriNIC, the RIR for Africa, expected to run-out somewhere in 2015.

Given these numbers, it’s clear that IPv6 should now be adopted. Manufacturers of connected devices need to enable IPv6 capabilities in their products. If they don’t, in the coming years, customers could be at the receiving end of expensive network complexities as network providers are forced to relay huge upgrade costs to the consumer.

As the forecasts show, IPv4 resource cannot be relied on for network expansion for much longer. IPv6 adoption is a gradual process which began many years ago, but for those who have lagged behind, now really is the time to plan for the future.