Three years after the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) distributed its last block of IPv4 address space and after much press coverage on the looming IPv4 crunch, addresses for the 32-year-old Internet protocol are still being allocated in Canada and the United States.
The American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) still has some 24 million IPv4 addresses available for the region, according to John Curran, president of the registry. The addresses are available to both small and large Internet service providers (ISPs).
Curran thinks ARIN’s IPv4 addresses will be depleted sometime this year. Despite that, addresses will still be available for a while longer and not all operators are likely to experience shortages at the same time.
The actual day that IPv4 addresses are supposed to run out appears to have been pushed a bit further by Internet organizations that have found ways to stretch available numbers.
For example some networks can reuse old IPv4 addresses that some customers have dropped in exchanged for newer IPv6 addresses.
Phil Roberts, technology program manager for the Internet Society, also adds that network operators get addresses by blocks and typically parcel them out as needed, rather than use them all at once.
Not everyone is also in a hurry to switch over to IPv6. That’s because IPv6 is not backward compatible to IPv4. This means network operators need to run a dual stack of IPv4/IPv6 network for some years to come.
The newer protocol has to be enabled by network hardware, vendors, transit providers, access providers, content providers and endpoint hardware makers. However, since there is no immediate economic advantage to being the first to move to IPv6, many hardware and service providers are not rushing into it.
IPv6 traffic is growing at a faster rate than IPv4 but if you check the numbers of users accessing Google via IPv6, it is still barely above three per cent of all users.
Many carriers also still have IPv4 addresses available for allocation.
However, experts are seeing a rise in dual implementations. The bottom line is, while there is no immediate crisis for service providers, businesses and customers, the pressure to switch to IPv6 is steadily growing.