Home opinion-and-analysis Open Sauce LCA 2011: APNIC scientist warns of impending IPv4 doomsday

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Many who warn of an impending doomsday can be put into the chicken little class. Geoff Huston does not fit into that bracket.


Today, he brought a very real warning as his keynote to the 12th Australian national Linux conference in Brisbane: the IPv4 address space will be exhausted in a few weeks and there is no workable replacement in place.

Huston, chief scientist at the Asia Pacific Network Information Centre, is a jovial bloke and hardly looks like a doomsday prophet. But he backed his warning with data - in fact, more of it than needed - to convince even the most sceptical that there is no way out.

And beyond the exhaustion of the IPv4 address space, Huston also warned that it risked making the internet address lose its open character.

As soon as IPv4 addresses are exhausted, the cost of obtaining a real one - Australian ISPs always charge extra for a static IP - would rise and those who had addresses which were not advertised (about 20 percent of the total) could create a market in them, he pointed out.

Huston said that the use of TCP/IP had grown due to its openness. Growth, however, has been far beyond anyone's imagination; 189.6 million addresses were handed out in 2009 and 248.8 million in 2010.

And despite the theory that there would be a gradual migration to IPv6, this hasn't happened; only 0.3 percent of those on the net run IPv6.

"The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) will run out of addresses in February. And the first date for a regional internet registry to exhaust its addresses is July 2012," Huston said.

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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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