ARIN is A-OK with sales of IPv4 addresses

But be warned, even if you have lots of IPv4 addresses, experts say IPv6 will still affect you

Stacy Hughes
I spent a delightful lunch last week with Stacy Hughes -- aka the "IP Goddess" -- at the Rocky Mountain IPv6 Summit in Denver (pictured). We discussed IPv6 adoption trends, black/gray markets for IPv4 addresses and a fun contest ARIN is has launched.

Stacy is one of 15 volunteer members of the Advisory Council for the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN). For her day job, she is a senior IP analyst for tw telecom, a provider of managed voice, Internet and data networking services.

One of the things I learned from her is that ARIN wants ideas from network professionals on policies that ARIN should consider. Her role is to sort through such ideas with the other advisory council members and then send recommendations to ARINs board of trustees. The board then decides to implement the policy or not. Policies cover everything as it pertains to dispersing IP addresses.

I was interested to learn that ARIN has policies around the transfer of IPv4 address for profit that it hopes will limit the motivation for black or gray markets to arise. Section 8.3 of the Arin Number Resource Policy Manual specifically allows companies to transfer IPv4 addresses, and to make whatever business arrangement they want on the matter. The only requirement, from ARIN's point of view, is that the receiving organization must demonstrate the need for those addresses, much as it would if it were applying for a block of addresses directly from ARIN.

In the manual's precise words:

8.3. Transfers to Specified Recipients

In addition to transfers under section 8.2, IPv4 number resources within the ARIN region may be released to ARIN by the authorized resource holder, in whole or in part, for transfer to another specified organizational recipient. Such transferred number resources may only be received under RSA by organizations that are within the ARIN region and can demonstrate the need for such resources, as a single aggregate, in the exact amount which they can justify under current ARIN policies.

Will this be enough to stop black markets? I walked away from the conversation thinking it would not. People may still buy/sell IP addresses without wanting (or caring about) an accurate ARIN WHOIS registry (spammers, for instance). At the same time, there seems to be little need for a legit business to have to go that route, especially with IPv4 address brokers sprouting out of nowhere. (See Need IPv4 addresses? Get 'em here).

It's interesting to note, too, that ARIN's policies also say that addresses are assigned to businesses, not individuals. So if a company goes out of business, its address block is supposed to revert back to ARIN's pool. Note to failing startups: remember to sell your IPv4 addresses before closing shop.

When it comes to the barrier of adoption, Stacy's husband, Aaron Hughes, who was also at that lunch table, offered an interesting perspective. Aaron is CTO of 6Connect an IPv6 training and management tools vendor in Palo Alto. He fears that many network professionals feel that they have plenty of IPv4 addresses and so the need to move to IPv6 doesn't apply to them.

But as whole segments of the world come online with IPv6-only addresses, performance of Internet applications across the board will start to degrade.

For the short term, most IPv6 experts say the world will rely on Carrier Grade NAT that lets carriers share IPv4 addresses among multiple devices. (See Can Large Scale NAT Save IPv4? by Jeff Doyle)

But as more IPv6 devices arrive, sharing those same IPv4 addresses, Carrier Grade NAT will get ugly. Users sticking with IPv4 may suffer performance problems trying to get to Websites as their addresses are shared not just between devices behind a firewall, but between households and enterprises. Alternatively, the IPv6 Internet will simply move on, easily implementing new services that can't be used by those on the protocol of yesteryear.

To get people excited about IPv6 adoption, ARIN has this week launched a game "Where in the World is IPv6"

The rules are simple: get yourself one of ARIN's IPv6 stickers or print one out from its Website. Slap it onto something you would like to see get IPv6, send the photo to ARIN's Flickr group. Submit your photo in two categories: something you would like to see IPv6 enabled in the next five years and the most unusual place you'd like to see IPv6. Contest ends May 16.

The first place winners in the photography contest will get $250 ThinkGeek gift certificates. Second place winners, $100 ThinkGeek gift certificates; and third place winners, $50 ThinkGeek gift certificates. Caption contest winners also get prizes, $50 ThinkGeek gift certificates.

More from the Cisco Odd and Ends blog

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Expert: IPv4 addresses could soon be valued at $200 apiece

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Most IPv6-certified home network gear is frightfully buggy

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