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North America set to allow IPv4 address transfers to Asia

Stephen Lawson | July 20, 2012
The Internet address registry for North America expects to start allowing transfers of IPv4 addresses to qualified users in Asia by the end of this month, possibly providing an escape valve for pent-up demand in that region.

Most of that activity has been driven by bankruptcies, because qualified applicants in North America can still get new addresses directly from ARIN, according to Curran. He expects inter-regional transfers to accelerate the activity.

One facilitator, Kalorama Group, said the new policy will make its job easier and may affect the market for IPv4 addresses.

"Today, when we have a demand party coming from a region outside of ARIN, we need to match them with supply in their own region," said Josh Bourne, Kalorama's managing director. Opening up transfers should make more potential partners available.

But the change may also even out prices between different regions, Bourne said. Prices within North America have changed little since Microsoft's purchase of 666,624 IPv4 addresses from Nortel Networks last year, one of few such deals made public. The price Microsoft paid came out to approximately $11.25 per address.

Prices in Asia-Pacific are between 50 percent and 100 percent higher than in North America because of greater scarcity, according to Bourne. Inter-regional transfers could lower the cost for buyers in Asia, while driving it up for those in North America, he said.

If extended more widely, inter-regional transfers could become a global phenomenon. ARIN and APNIC are just the first RIRs to approve them, and all the other RIRs -- for Africa, Latin America, and Europe and the Middle East -- are discussing such policies, APNIC's Wilson said.

But both Curran and Wilson said snapping up IPv4 addresses only makes sense as part of a transition to IPv6. There are only about 4.3 billion IPv4 addresses, less than one for every person in the world. IPv6 offers many orders of magnitude more addresses.

"We probably need 40 or 50 billion IP addresses," Curran said. "So we can move around the v4 ones to better use them, but I don't know if a lot of companies are going to invest significantly in them, because it's recognized that there's only so much life left in that engine."


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