The UK Department for Work and Pensions has reportedly started the process of selling off some of its stack of rarely used IPv4 addresses.
The issue of the DWP's stockpile of IPv4 addresses was first noted by blogger John Graham-Cumming, in 2012. He estimated the government was holding around 17 million unused addresses, with a potentially huge financial value.
"That block of addresses, all 16.8 million of them, is completely unused. A check of the ASN database will show that there are no networks for that block of addresses. Right when IPv4 is running out there's a huge block sitting unused," wrote Graham-Cumming.
"That's an extremely valuable asset. One recent article valued an entire /8 at between $500 million to $1.5 billion."
The DWP later claimed that the allocation is used internally, but according to the BBC 150,000 addresses have now been sold to a Norwegian company called Altibox for £600,000. When V3 called its press office the Department for Work and Pensions would not confirm this, but it did offer a statement.
"Government periodically reviews all its assets to consider their financial value, including options to release income from those that are not used to their fullest potential," it said.
"The scope of the value of these assets is commercially sensitive and protected by standard legal confidentiality agreements."
In February, the government confirmed it was considering "freeing up" some of its unused IP addresses, in a post from the official Office of the CTO.
"We've brought in Ernst & Young to help us explore the possibilities. Reconfiguring our internal networks to free up addresses carries a cost, so we need to account for that, and we're keen to keep our public services running without disruption if we do transfer them. So there is much to consider," wrote Hadley Beeman, the CTO's senior technical adviser.
"This period of discovery is a useful one to see what value we have hidden in our existing technology. We may be able to better use our network assets, like addresses, both by freeing them up for someone else to use, and by releasing some value from things we aren't using to their fullest potential."
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