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Axel Pawlik (Europe): The Rate of IPv4 Depletion and IPv6 Adoption in Europe

IPv4, the current Internet protocol standard, is running out and the new standard, IPv6 is not backwards compatible. Because the two cannot communicate directly with each other, it’s imperative that IPv6 is adopted globally to avoid any disruption in Internet connectivity.

The RIPE NCC, the Regional Internet Registry (RIR) for Europe, the Middle East and parts of Central Asia has around 65 million remaining IPv4 addresses. Although this may seem like a lot, in reality, IPv4 in the region is expected to be fully depleted by the first half of 2012. The RIR for Asia Pacific (APNIC) has already exhausted its supply of IPv4 and the RIPE NCC is not far behind.

There are roughly 340 trillion, trillion, trillion IPv6 addresses and the RIPE NCC has allocated more IPv6 than any other region so far. If the RIPE NCC carries on allocating IPv6 at the current high rate for the next 50 years, it will still have only allocated 2% of the resource and it is hoped that IPv6 will never run out (although it should be said the same was hoped for IPv4).

This increasing demand for IPv6 is an encouraging sign, even if IPv6 adoption across the world should ideally be much further progressed at this stage.

In June of this year, World IPv6 Day saw top websites and Internet service providers around the world, including Google, Facebook and Yahoo conduct a successful global-scale trial of the new Internet Protocol. The event demonstrated that the major websites are well-positioned for the adoption of a global IPv6-enabled Internet. Everyone else must now follow their lead in preparing for the future.

With news that the world’s population has reached 7 billion (the UN’s best estimate for future growth is that there will be 9 billion people on the planet by 2050) and with the continued expansion of connected devices, it is clear the remaining IPv4 addresses cannot be relied on for network expansion much longer.

By Axel Pawlik, managing director, RIPE NCC, Amsterdam

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