The IGP has released a new paper, Scarcity in IP addresses: IPv4 Address Transfer Markets and the Regional Internet Address Registries.

We are running out of Internet addresses. This paper evaluates address transfer policies that Internet governance agencies are considering as a response to the depletion of the IPv4 address space. The paper focuses on proposals to allow organizations holding IPv4 addresses to sell address blocks to other organizations willing to buy them. This paper analyzes the economics of the proposed transfer policies, and conducts a systematic comparison of the policies proposed in the three main world Internet regions. It concludes that:

  • Address transfer markets offer a pragmatic solution to the problem of reclaiming
    a substantial amount of unused IP address space and of re-allocating addresses to
    their most efficient uses

  • The risks of instituting well-designed address transfer policies are small when
    compared to the potential benefits. The change is less radical than it appears.

  • A failure to legitimize address transfer markets would create substantial risks of
    the institutionalization of gray or black markets in IPv4 address resources, leading
    to a deterioration of accurate registration and administration of the legacy address
    space. This could have severe negative implications for Internet security.

  • One should not prevent IPv4 address transfers in order to push organizations into
    IPv6. If migration to IPv6 is beneficial, a transfer market could only prolong the
    transition, it could not stop it. We do not know how long it will take the global
    Internet to transition to IPv6, or even whether such a migration will succeed. Given
    the uncertainties surrounding dual stack implementation, a longer transition
    period may turn out to be very helpful.

  • The proposed address transfer policies being considered by RIPE and APNIC are
    more liberal than ARIN’s. Most of the legacy IPv4 address space is in North
    America; thus, the policies ARIN adopts have the most importance and should be
    formulated with the good of the global Internet in mind. RIPE, ARIN and APNIC
    should strive to harmonize their transfer policies and (in the longer term) make
    inter-regional transfers possible.