Activists Push for Release of 250 Million Unused IPv4 Addresses
Activists are lobbying for the release of more than 250 million unused IPv4 addresses to tackle the IPv4 exhaustion problem. However, the proposal has faced opposition in the past and is expected to face challenges again.
The History and Value of the 240/4 Block
The 240/4 block is comprised of over 250 million unused IPv4 addresses, ranging from 240.0.0.0 to 255.255.255.254. These addresses were set aside in the early days of IPv4 for future use or experiments. At market rates, these addresses are worth around $7 billion.
However, decisions made in those early years of the internet, such as allocating IP addresses to ham radio operators and reserving the 240/4 block for future use, are now seen as outdated and hindering the evolution of the internet.
Despite the scarcity of IPv4 addresses and the high cost of acquiring new resources, the proposal to release the 240/4 block for public use and allocate them at a modest cost still faces opposition.
Challenges in Implementing the Proposal
One of the main challenges in implementing the proposal is the lack of recognition of the 240/4 block by many manufacturers of networking equipment. This means that devices may not process packets sent to the addresses within this block, making them effectively invisible to many users.
Another challenge is the need to upgrade billions of devices to ensure universal access to the 240/4 block. This would require significant cost, effort, and potential ecological impact. Additionally, there are concerns that freeing up IPv4 addresses would further delay the migration to IPv6, which offers numerous advantages over IPv4.
Interop testing is needed to determine if networking devices can be upgraded to handle the 240/4 block. While some devices have already recognized the block, it remains unclear if core infrastructure can easily be adapted to access these addresses.
The Potential Benefits of the 240/4 Reform
Proponents of the 240/4 reform argue that reallocating these addresses to regional internet registries (RIRs) could benefit developing nations where IPv6 adoption may be slower and resources are scarce. These nations could use IPv4 resources to offer services and promote competition.
By revisiting the decisions made in the early years of IPv4 and allowing for the release of the 240/4 block, the fate and relevance of IPv4 itself can be influenced. While IPv4 will likely remain in use for decades, the reform could potentially extend or shorten its relevance in the ever-evolving internet landscape.