North American Network Operators Group

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Re: IPV4 as a Commodity for Profit

  • From: Iljitsch van Beijnum
  • Date: Mon Feb 18 18:48:58 2008

On 18 feb 2008, at 21:06, David Conrad wrote:

Presumably, the market would occur when the IPv4 address free pool has been exhausted. Without a market, there will be no IPv4 address space. With a market, IPv4 address space will be available at a price.

I wouldn't be so sure. How many millions of addresses do the Comcasts of this world use up every year? 2? 5? 8? (That is PER large ISP, NOT for all of them together.) When trying to obtain such a number of addresses immediately after the RIRs are out will almost certainly be possible, but at what price? The likes of HP will have to spend a lot of money auditing their networks or take huge risks freeing up millions of addresses. (How do you know there isn't some 15-year-old legacy system whose address is hardcoded all over the place (no DHCP back then! Even DNS wasn't ubiquitous in the early 1990s) in a given address block?) I'm not sure if they'll be prepared to do this for a price that the big ISPs will find affordable.

But even if this works out the first round, supply can only go down and the price can only go up the second round. If I were an ISP, I wouldn't start a process like this that can only end in tears a few years down the road, but rather, go for the alternatives where I don't have to obtain fresh IPv4 space immediately. It only makes sense to buy address space in bulk for large ISPs if they're caught by surprise and need time to implement kicking the IPv4 habit.

As for those of us who aren't ISPs connecting hundreds of thousands of customers per year: that single /8 a year that make up 90% of the requests can probably be accommodated from the normal return of address space, and if not, people who need a /24 can afford to pay a whole lot more than those who need a /10, so supply and demand should work fine here.

By the way, we already have a perfectly functioning IPv4 address market. But it's not about owning, but about renting. Buy IP transit service and you'll get a bunch of IP addresses thrown in.