Address allocation kicks off IPv4 endgame

Two new allocations will force the last big address blocks to be assigned

The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority has assigned two large blocks of IPv4 addresses to the Asia-Pacific Network Information Centre, activating a rule under which the agency will give out the last of its IPv4 addresses.

The rule states that when only five large blocks of IP addresses remain, one will be handed out to each of the world's five regional Internet registries. With the latest allocation to APNIC, the number of remaining IP address blocks is down to five.

IANA is expected to assign the remaining blocks within a matter of days or less. After that, the regional bodies will have no higher source of addresses to turn to when they have assigned the addresses they hold.

IPv4's address space allows for only about 4.3 billion unique Internet addresses, which client and server computers use to connect with the Internet. The remaining IPv4 addresses have been dwindling over the past few years. The latest version of Internet Protocol, IPv6, has a nearly unlimited number of addresses but is not yet widely used.

As expected, APNIC, the regional Internet registry for Asia, has requested and been assigned two "/8" -- or "slash-8" -- address blocks, each of which contains about 16 million IP addresses. The newly assigned blocks are 39/8 and 106/8, which as recently as last week were unallocated. Now only 102/8, 103/8, 179/8 and 185/8 remain unallocated. Some other /8 blocks are reserved for special purposes such as multicasting.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

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