Today IGP releases its study of the market for IPv4 number blocks. It is the first independent academic analysis of an emerging market in number resources. The commoditization of IP addresses is likely to have a major impact on the governance of the Internet.
Although the Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) are running out of IPv4 numbers and hope to encourage migration to IPv6, a new Internet protocol with a much larger address space, there are actually millions of unused IPv4 numbers held by organizations who received them in the early, informal era of Internet governance before the RIRs were formed. The costs and difficulties associated with implementing IPv6, coupled with the impending exhaustion of the so-called IPv4 “free pool” allocated by the RIRs, has prompted some of the RIRs to encourage a trading market in IPv4 numbers. These IPv4 transfer markets allow organizations with a surplus to sell number blocks to organizations that need more.
Drawing on the records of the Regional Internet Registries, Whois data, and bankruptcy court records, our paper compiles factual information about the number of address blocks that have been traded and their size as a percentage of the overall address space.
Our data show that the quantity of IPv4 numbers traded exploded from only about 10,000 in 2010 to about 5 million in the first six months of 2012. The overall value of the IPv4 market, now estimated to be about $60 million in 2011 and 2012 based on an assumption of $10 per address, could increase to half a billion or even a billion US dollars if current rates of growth are extrapolated into the future. Surprisingly, the market is strongest in the ARIN region, which still has ‘free pool’ addresses to give out. Market-traded IPv4 numbers, according to our data, accounted for 26.3% of the numbers allocated by ARIN in the traditional manner in the first half of 2012.
The paper examines some of the very limited information that exists about the pricing of these resources, and whether the traded addresses are being routed or not. The paper then shows how this factual information highlights certain policy issues, in particularly the role of needs assessment and property rights in IPv4 number blocks.
Download the paper here: IPv4marketTPRC2012