About 15 years ago, an improved Internet Protocol was developed called IPv6. Among the improvements was an vast increase in the number of usable Internet addresses (IP Addresses) because – you know – we were going to run out eventually; and before very long, it seemed at the time.
However, being the ingenious sods that we sometimes are – as a species – we managed to cook up a number of “Plan-B”s to buy us more time in which to act.
And then we took that time, we squandered it, and ultimately we lost it.
There isn’t another Plan B lurking in the wings. There isn’t time, anymore. We took all of the years of extra time that we gained, and used them up by not acting, ensuring that – when the time came – the process would be more difficult, more involved and much bigger than it would have been if we hadn’t come up with a Plan B in the first place.
The IANA (who manages the central unallocated IP address pool) is expected to hand out the very last block of IP addresses in the current (IPv4) protocol in just 48 days.
Then they have no more.
Those address blocks are handed out to RIRs (Regional Internet Registries). It is likely that many of the RIRs will have no new IPv4 addresses to give anyone in the next 90-100 days or so. The last RIR with addresses to give out might still have a few left in a year from now, for their own region.
And then there are none left.
For anyone else to get a new IPv4 Address, someone close to them has to give one up. This is completely infeasible. An entire “/8” block (16 million addresses and change) are used up every 4-6 weeks.
Why have we let this occur? Because it made good, short-term business sense.
As IPv4 addresses started to get much scarcer during the 1990s, the price charged to the customer for providing them went up. In a sense, the ever-increasing cost of fixed IP addresses was just one Plan B, among many. The growth in the allocation rates of new addresses were slowed, and plenty people made huge bags of cash from it all.
The growth in allocation rates didn’t stop, though. More addresses are allocated each week than the week before. The demand is there, despite all the Plan B gimmicks we’ve come up with, like more reliance on NAT and dynamic allocation.
We’ve played all of our cards, used all of our tricks, and wrung every IP address out of every Plan B that we could come up with.
It’s too late now to do anything but to draw up a plan and put it in motion. If you don’t, in just another quarter or two you’ll be increasingly cut off from the chunks of the Internet that did. If your ISP isn’t already providing you with IPv6 prefixes, contact them and ask them why and when. If they don’t have a plan, then you can’t plan to do anything except change providers to somebody that does.