The UK’s Register reports that depletion of the world’s IPv4 address space is spawning a new development in the Internet address space, IPv4 address trading. According to the Register, German Phython developer Martin von Loewis launched a site called Tradipv4.com in March. The site is offering IPv4 addresses for $3 for v4 addresses in American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) and $4 for those in the Asia Pacific Network Information Center (APNIC) region.
IPv4 address trading, however, is still a grey market idea now. FireceTelecom reports that to make sure that unmanaged address transfers don’t compromise network operations or security, the Internet Society (ISOC) said that buyers and sellers should make sure any “transfers be affected per appropriate Regional Internet Registry (RIR) processes.” Citing its own estimate of prices reaching $11 per address, ISOC said, “We strongly urge that such transfers be affected per appropriate RIR processes.” Unmanaged address transfers will undermine network operations, and it could raise security issues since anonymous address spaces can be spoofed according to ISOC.
On their FAQ page, Tradeip4.com says its auctions can cover both the sale and lease of addresses, subject to RIR policies. Some of these policies, the site notes, have grey areas. For example, APNIC policy aims to discourage address transfer by applying what amounts to a 12 month embargo on the originating party receiving new addresses. However, Tradeip4.com dismisses this as irrelevant, since APNIC’s space is exhausted and no new blocks are being assigned according to FierceTelecom. Despite these concerns, Tradeip4.com, maintains that it can sell and lease IPv4 addresses and maintains that it follows RIR policies.
This is not just a SMB issue Microsoft (MSFT), recently bought Nortel‘s IPv4 addresses (Which I wrote about here). Craig Labovitz, Chief Scientist for network security vendor Arbor Networks, told FierceTelecom that Nortel’s deal with Microsoft reflects how IPv4 depletion is becoming a more pressing issue, now that IPv4 is a scarce resource.
IPv4 addresses have not been a scarce resource and no one has had to pay more, but what really is starting to change is Microsoft spending money to buy Nortel’s IPv4 address space. For the first time, there’s now a price associated with V4, and one you have a price you start having providers charge for it and start seeing people having a reason to care.
The Register article notes that the Canadian government, via its Industry Canada department, is also against the trade of IPv4 addresses, and it has weighed in on the sale of Nortel’s addresses to Microsoft. In a letter discussed on CircleID, Industry Canada expressed its support for the long-standing position that addresses are not property and therefore cannot be traded.
I see several problems with the IPv4 grey market. Trading in IPv4 is just another sign of resistance to IPv6. Firms with a global view have to realize that reallocation of a handful of IPv4 will not make a difference in an IPv6 world. Another issue could be the routability of an IPv4 address originally assigned to APIC and traded on the grey-market to RIPE. Right now there is no guarantee that these type of addresses will be recognized. There are also political issues, the Canadian government opposes the IP grey-market. Industry Canada has expressed its support for the long-standing position that addresses are not property and therefore cannot be traded.
The ISOC says IPv4 addresses are worth $11.00, MSFT paid $11.25 and ARIN addresses are currently (04-30-11) trading $7.00 per IP. on tradeipv4.com so MSFT appears to have overpaid for the Nortel address range. The bigger issue is the change in nature of an IP address.
What do you think?
Are grey market IPv4 addresses worth it?
Has your firm started its transition to IPv6?
- Court Approves Nortel’s Sale of IPv4 Addresses to Microsoft (circleid.com)
- Microsoft Heats Up IPv4 Market (informationweek.com)
- Need IPv4 Addresses? Get ’em Here (pcworld.com)