Used since 1983, Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) allows the Internet to work: each terminal on the network (computer, telephone, server, etc.) is addressable by an IPv4 address. This protocol offers an addressing space of nearly 4.3 billion IPv4 addresses. But the success of the Internet, the diversity of uses and the multiplication of connected objects have as a direct consequence the progressive exhaustion of these addresses. By the end of June 2018, the four major French operators (Bouygues Telecom, Free, Orange, SFR) had already assigned between 88% and 99% of the IPv4 addresses they own.
Only 2.856 million public IPv4s remain available at RIPE NCC as of July 23th, 2019.
Two scenarios are now possible:
- 1: allocation of 1024 IPv4 addresses by LIR until depletion.
- 2: allocation of 1024 IPv4 addresses by LIR until the last million available IPv4 addresses, then 256 IPv4 addresses by LIR until depletion.
The most likely date for IPv4 depletion is May 6, 2020 (scenario 2).
If RIPE proposal 2019-02, allowing to limit to 256 IPv4 per LIR (scenario 1), is rejected, it will be on December 25, 2019.
On the day of the exhaustion of RIPE-NCC IPv4, the price of IPv4 on the secondary market for the purchase of already allocated addresses is expected to soar according to supply and demand. Indeed, players who have too many IPv4 addresses can sell them to those who do not have enough or none at all.
A high price that could erect an entry barrier against new market players and increase the risk of the development of an Internet split in two: IPv4 on the one hand and IPv6 on the other. As Jérémy Martin, Technical Director of Firstheberg.com explains: "With increasing demand for a fixed number of IPv4, the cost of renting an IPv4 will double in the next 2 years"
To address the shortage of IPv4 addresses, ISPs have implemented some alternative mechanisms. For example, Carrier-grade NAT (CGN) equipment allows an IPv4 address to be shared between several clients. However, they have several negative effects that make it difficult to maintain IPv4 and almost impossible to use it for a number of purposes (peer-to-peer, remote access to shared files on a NAS or connected home control systems, certain network games, etc.).
For Grégory Mounier of Europol, this can go further and "violates the privacy of many people who could be summoned in proceedings even though investigators are only interested in one suspect. In this context, only a near-total transition to IPv6 can be a sustainable response to this problem."
On the other hand, an operator buying IPv4 addresses from a foreign player takes the risk that its customers will be located outside France for many months and thus block many services.
Accelerating the transition to IPv6 is the only sustainable solution. Only a near-total mutation can allow content providers to do without IPv4.
Source : Arcep