In February of 2011, an official ceremony was held marking the depletion of the free pool of IPv4 address space. Three and a half years later, more IPv4 address space has been reclaimed and has now been issued.
That's right. More than three years after the supposed end of freely available address space, it looks like we haven't run out of IPv4 address space after all.
On September 2, Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) around the world each received new IPv4 space from the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA). The space given to each of the RIRs is the equivalent of what is known as a /12 address allocation. In a /12, there are approximately 1,048,574 IPv4 addresses.
"ARIN has added this new /12 to its available inventory and will begin issuing from this block in the near future," Leslie Nobile, director of registration services for the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN), wrote in a statement.
The new IPv4 address allocations have been made as part of a policy that was ratified by the RIRs in 2012.
"Following the exhaustion of IANA's free pool of IPv4 addresses in 2011, when the RIRs received their final /8s, a global policy caused IANA to create a recovered pool of leftover and returned IPv4 address blocks," the RIPE (Réseaux IP Européens Network Coordination Centre) RIR stated. "This policy was ratified by all five RIR communities in 2012 and stated that IANA would begin making equal, periodic allocations from the recovered pool when the first RIR reached a /9 of remaining addresses. "
While new IPv4 space has been recovered, the total volume of freely available IPv4 space is still relatively small. In April of this year, ARIN announced that it was down to the final /8 block of available IPv4 space. Each /8 block contains 16,777,214 addresses.
As of September 3, ARIN is reporting that is down to 0.76 of a /8 block for available IPv4 address space. That translates into approximately 1.3 million addressees.
The entire IPv4 address space encompasses a total of 4.3 billion addresses globally. IPv6 address space, which is the next generation of IP addressing, provides 340 trillion trillion trillion (34 x 10 to the 38th power) Internet addresses.
"It is important that network operators continue to deploy IPv6 on their networks to ensure the future growth of the Internet," RIPE stated.
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Enterprise Networking Planet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.