Over 4 Billion IP Addresses Have Been Allocated

If you are on the FreeServerMonitor.com‘s, what-is-my-ip page, you’ll see your current IP address and geolocation. In most cases you will see a number in the format X.X.X.X, where X is likely a number between 1-254. This number can change depending on where you are connecting from home or some other location.

Any device that connects to the internet needs a unique IP address to communicate with other devices. As of now almost all of them have been using the version IP V4. There are a maximum of 4,294,967,296 IP V4 addresses available to be assigned to users.

A few years back, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, ICANN, announced that all of the IP V4 Address pool has already been allocated. As a matter of fact, there are almost 9 billion devices online, and with each device required to have a unique IP address, how is it possible to have 9 billion connected to the Internet.

Connecting 9 Billion Devices With Only 4.3 Billion IP V4 Addresses?

This is done via Network Address Translation (NAT). An enormous number of devices are actually on private networks (192.168.x.x, 172.16.x.x, or 10.x.x.x for example). But these private networks often sit behind a single public IP address. This is usually accomplished with router hardware, often combined with firewall functionality. For example, most home environments nowadays have wireless router/firewall appliances connected to a single Internet Service Provider (ISP) connection, with a single public IP address.

On the internal network, there can be tens, hundreds, or even thousands of devices, each with a unique private IP address within the internal network. When connections are made to the Internet (say, for fetching a web page), an internal IP address paired with the web client’s “socket number” gets mapped by the router/firewall appliance to the public IP address and a different client socket number. From the website’s perspective, it was the public IP address and its client socket number which made the request, so it sends the response back to that. The router/firewall then forwards that response to the appropriate computer or mobile device on its private network (and its client socket number), based on the mapping it has in its NAT lookup table. This way, we can have many, many more than 2^32 (4-billion-ish) devices connected to the Internet at the same time.

Basically, what makes NAT possible is our very sparse usage of the many, many possible client socket numbers. A single public IP address can have tens of thousands of client socket numbers active simultaneously (at least in theory), so this can support a huge number of client devices behind the NAT, in its private network.

Reselling IP V4 Address

Over the past few years, the IPv4 market has seen a sharp increase in prices. Initially, prices did not follow any particular pattern, and transactions were few and far between. As buyers, sellers, and brokers became more knowledgeable, the market settled down, and the price per address started rising, especially for the smaller blocks. When sellers noticed that larger blocks were fewer than the smaller ones, the former’s price per address started growing.

Past performance is not always a reliable indicator of future return. However, trends show that address prices may go beyond $40 by the end of 2020. For many people, $50 for each address may seem out of the ordinary, a factor that has left everyone wondering when prices will come down. Sellers are looking to sell high, while buyers cannot keep hoping that prices will come down before they need the addresses. As such, prices will only fall when demand falls.

Real Solution to the Rescue – The Age of IP V6

The recovery and reallocation of IPv4 addresses will contribute to the exhaustion of IPv4 addressing space. In the recent past, an IPv4 transfer market has mushroomed, and Carrier Grade Network Address Translation (CGNAT) has gained popularity. However, these two strategies do not adequately address the main problem which is insufficient IPv4 addresses to satisfy market needs.

IPv4 prices and transactions are rising at an unbelievable rate. The addressing space is also diminishing, meaning there is a need to find a new way of sustaining the growth of the internet. 

Nowadays the amount of IoT devices, cell phones, small network appliances, and entertainment devices, are increasing continuously, everything has an IP and it’s built with native support of IPv6 and oriented to internet connections so there is a need for reliability and evolution of IP. IPv6 could be faster and without the state, because you could use a config with two steps (Request-Reply) instead of four steps, Discover-Offer-Request-Ack in IPv4.

The wide-scale deployment of IPv6 will go a long way toward dealing with the shortage of unique network identifiers. With the right expertise, equipment, and investment, it is up to other stakeholders to help with the IPv6 roll-out.

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