Businesses and individuals are being urged to start embracing the IPv6 address space as the number of IPv4 addresses nears exhaustion.
The warnings come after the American Registry of Internet Numbers (ARIN) reported that it had been forced to reject a request for IPv4 addresses as it did not have enough. This is the first time this has happened.
ARIN told V3 that the situation is a clear indication that the time is right to start preparing for IPv6, especially as the Internet of Things (IoT) and connected cars start to generate more requests for internet connections.
“ARIN encourages customers to seriously undertake a review of what they will need to make the switch to IPv6,” the organisation said.
“The internet is evolving and, as it changes and expands into new territories like the IoT, IPv6 will play a critical role."
ARIN had to activate its 'unmet requests' policy earlier this week when it rejected the request for more IPv4 addresses from an unknown organisation.
“ARIN activated the IPv4 Unmet Requests policy this week with the approval of an address request that was larger than the available inventory in the regional IPv4 free pool,” said ARIN chief executive John Curran.
The move does not mean that there are no IPv4 addresses left, but that requests will have to be smaller to be accommodated or applicants will have to wait for blocks of address space to be returned.
Curran encouraged companies to consider the use of IPv6 instead. “ARIN also reminds organisations of the ample availability of IPv6 address space, and encourages organisations to evaluate IPv6 address space for their ongoing public internet network activities,” he said.
ARIN is the latest major holder of IPv4 addresses to confirm that it now has limited stock, after similar announcements by organisations in Asia in 2011, Europe in 2012 and Latin America in 2014.
Axel Pawlik, managing director of the European registry RIPE NCC, echoed the calls from ARIN that the era of IPv6 is now at hand.
“By giving each device a unique IP address, the next generation of internet-based technology is made possible. The ongoing proliferation of internet-connected devices and driverless cars cannot happen without IPv6,” he said.
IPv6 has a far larger pool of address spaces than IPv4. IPv6 has 340 trillion trillion trillion possible combinations, compared with 4.3 billion for IPv4.
The size of the potential IPv4 address space seemed adequate when internet protocols were first invented, but the proliferation of internet-connected devices has rapidly changed this.
The dwindling amount of IPv4 addresses means that their worth is increasing, something the UK government is hoping to cash in on by selling off around 17 million unused addresses that could be worth millions of pounds.
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