RIPE: Trade in IPv4 addresses is a reality
Soon, commercially-traded IPv4 address blocks – or "transfers" – will be virtually the only source for IPv4 addresses. IPv4 address reserves are running out and the introduction of IPv6, which has a much larger address space, is taking a long time. Most experts consider this development inevitable. "We can stop all discussions about whether we want to prevent an IPv4 market or not, whether we want to regulate it or not, because we don't have the instruments to control this", said Rob Blokzijl, the chair of the RIPE community, at the 57th meeting of Réseaux IP Européens (RIPE) in Dubai on Tuesday. Debating the market is futile as it has become a reality, said Blokzijl, expressing the basic feeling among the RIPE members.
Remco van Mook, who has urged RIPE members to accept the market as a reality for the past two years, presented some practical examples. According to the Dutchman, one "broker", for example, even expressed an interest in buying several /16 blocks for a customer, but also wanted to purchase smaller lots. Providers apparently receive enquiries like this "several times a year". People don't care about organisations like RIPE or standardisation committees like the IETF, and neither do they care whether the addresses are routable or if they get filtered, said van Mook. A single IPv4 address from a /16 block costs €3.33, he said. Costs are incurred by the provision of legal protection as well as the founding and subsequent management of a holding company to handle the "transfer".
However, van Mook warned that the currently discussed transfer policy is still too strict. Those who wish to buy addresses from a RIPE member first need to become members themselves. RIPE addresses can only be traded within the RIPE region, and selling them to US or African customers is impossible, he said. Van Mook considers it a particular problem that buyers have to prove to the RIPE NCC that they need the addresses. "Every hurdle we set up will discourage some people from doing an official transfer", fears van Mook. It may become necessary to proceed in the direction of pure transfer registrations, conceded Blokzijl.
At the RIPE meeting on Tuesday there were only few objections to permitting registered transfers. Randy Bush of Internet Initiative Japan warned that the measures won't be able to prevent failure. "We'll hit a wall if we don't introduce IPv6", he said. Whether a flourishing trade with IPv4 will have an effect on the introduction of IPv6, however, remains controversial. Tom Vest, one of the authors of a recently-published study about the advantages and risks of establishing an IP address market, is concerned that the RIPE model could become immaterial once IP addresses become goods and, therefore, property. Like Bush, Vest emphatically called for the promotion of IPv6.
(Monika Ermert) /