The application process for Internet Protocol (IP) addresses just got stricter, as very soon, new IPv4 addresses will be fully depleted around the globe.
As of May 21, the Caribbean entered a new phase of IPv4 exhaustion planning, as the pool of addresses reached 8,388,606, according to a release from the Latin American and Caribbean Network Information Centre (LACNIC), which is the Regional Internet Registry (RIR) for South America and much of Central America and the Caribbean.
In order to communicate, each device connected to the Internet must be identified by a unique IP address. The system by which unique IP addresses are currently distributed, called IPv4, has only 4.3 billion IP addresses. The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) handed out its last blocks of IPv4 addresses to the five RIRs in February 2011. This means that IPv6 is critical to the Internet’s continued growth as a platform for innovation and economic development.
"The Internet continues to grow in leaps and bounds, and an increasing number of business opportunities continue to emerge. It is estimated that next year our region will have tens of millions of new Internet users. To meet the demand for the years to come, it is essential that every access network and content service in our region deploys IPv6," the release said.
While the number 8,388,606 may appear perfectly random to many, the changes that it triggered have been predetermined with careful forethought. In fact, Phase 1 of LACNIC's IPv4 exhaustion plan will end as soon as another predetermined benchmark is hit. When only 4,194,302 IPv4 addresses remain, the Caribbean will enter Phase 2 of depletion planning.
What happens next? Find out more about the changes to LACNIC's IPv4 administration.
"As of this moment, there are only about four million addresses available before reaching Phase 2, when the rules and procedures for the assignment of the remaining addresses will be extremely restrictive in terms of assignment size and frequency," the release said.
According to ISOC's IPv6 Deploy 360 Programme website, "We have been growing the commercial Internet for decades using the IPv4 address space. At the time of its creation, IPv4 was not intended to satisfy the needs of a global commercial Internet. It was intended to support the needs of experimental research and government networks. We have known all along IPv4 was a limited resource and that one day it would fully deplete. That day has come."