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The IP addresses may be released to use on the Internet

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Brandon Lee
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The "240/4" block, encompassing the majority of IPv4 addresses ranging from to, represents a significant, yet untapped, portion of the IPv4 address space. This block, which includes upwards of 268 million addresses or approximately six percent of the entire IPv4 number space, holds a potential market value of around $7 billion.

Initially reserved for future use or experimentation in the nascent stages of IPv4 development, this vast swath of addresses remains dormant. The early period of internet development is often likened to the universe's formation, marked by rapid changes and the emergence of various anomalies, some of which persist to this day. Decisions from this era, such as allocating 16 million IP addresses to ham radio operators and reserving the 240/4 block, now seem outdated. Notably, the decision has sparked controversy, especially after ham radio operators sold a portion of their IPv4 assets to Amazon for over $100 million, highlighting the stark contrast in the perceived value of these addresses amid a global shortage.

The scarcity of IPv4 addresses has led to a significant increase in their market price, with single addresses fetching $30 or more. This situation has prompted discussions about possibly reclassifying the 240/4 block to alleviate the shortage by allowing regional internet registries to allocate these addresses at a modest cost.

Paul Wilson, the director-general of the Asia-Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC), has been a prominent figure advocating for the reclassification of the 240/4 block. In 2008, Wilson and his co-authors proposed using the block for private networks, suggesting it could supplement the existing private IP address spaces and support larger private internets transitioning to IPv6. Despite the proposal, opposition stemmed from concerns over the practical challenges of implementation, including the reluctance of networking equipment manufacturers to recognize the 240/4 block and the necessity for widespread device updates.

Efforts to utilize the 240/4 block have persisted over the years, with notable attempts by individuals and organizations within the tech community. For instance, the Linux kernel and other operating systems like MacOS and Solaris have begun recognizing the block. Additionally, some versions of Cisco’s IOS and Juniper’s JUNOS offer support for the block at the discretion of users.

The utilization of the 240/4 block by major tech companies like Google, Amazon, and Verizon Business for internal purposes has reignited interest in its potential. The IPv4 Unicast Extensions Project, advocating for the block's reclassification, proposes a gradual approach to integration to minimize disruption to the broader internet infrastructure. However, concerns persist regarding the extensive device upgrades required for universal access and the environmental implications of such an undertaking. Critics also argue that making more IPv4 addresses available could deter the transition to IPv6, a protocol designed to offer a virtually limitless address space and enhanced features absent in IPv4.

250 million-plus reserved IPv4 addresses could be released • The Register

Posted : 19/02/2024 5:35 pm