ARIN, the Regional Internet Registry (RIR) for North America, announced on 23 April 2014 that it had entered phase 4 of its IPv4 Countdown Plan, meaning that it is now assigning space from the last /8 of IPv4 address space and that depletion of its pool is imminent.
APNIC exhausted its supply of IPv4 address space back in 2011 and the RIPE NCC followed quickly in 2012. LACNIC recently announced that it expects its IPv4 pool to be depleted sometime in the first half of 2014. The announcement by ARIN now means that AFRINIC is the only RIR with a non-critically low supply of IPv4 address space.
CEO Adiel Akplogan says, “This however does not mean we can be complacent about our supply of IPv4 address space. Consumption levels in the region are increasing rapidly – it is no coincidence that four of the largest IPv4 allocations made worldwide in 2013 were to African nations: Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria and the Seychelles. Africa also has one of the world’s highest penetrations of mobile Internet users, all of whom need IP addresses to get online, and this user-base is growing fast
We simply cannot afford to think that IPv4 exhaustion is something that affects other regions. In the near future, it is inevitable that AFRINIC will become the only region where, with correct justification, significant amounts of IPv4 address space can be obtained. We expect this to lead to a sharp increase in requests and our Member Services Team is preparing accordingly for this.”
In addition, AFRINIC also expects increased scrutiny of its allocation processes and procedures, especially in the grey-area of non-policy compliant requests. These issues include resources being requested for offshore companies, organisations with entire customer bases outside of AFRINIC’s service region and emerging technologies making it difficult to identify whether a prospective member is an LIR or an End User.
“We encourage the community to contribute to discussions on the Policy Discussion Mailing list and, during the AFRINIC Meetings, to voice their opinion on how AFRINIC should handle all aspects of Internet number resource allocation policies,” says Akplogan. “It is up to the community to define how we move forward at this crucial point in the history of the Internet and we look forward to your input.”
As the supply of IPv4 address space continues to dwindle, more and more new connections will be made over IPv6 as opposed to IPv4. The future of the Internet will be over IPv6 and, unless African networks and businesses also transition, they risk becoming isolated from the global Internet. As the rest of the world moves to IPv6, Africa also has to make sure its networks, services and content are IPv6 ready to remain a global player.
“As we move into a future where large quantities of IPv4 address space will be unobtainable in many parts of the world, I take this opportunity to reiterate the message that IPv6 deployment cannot wait: you need to ensure that your networks, devices and content are IPv6 ready or enabled sooner rather than later,” concludes Akplogan.
AFRINIC has been leading the effort in the region to promote and support IPv6 deployment since 2005 through outreach, education, free training courses and provision of an IPv6 test bed. Find out more about our IPv6 Programme.