ICANN has confirmed that it will run out of unassigned IPv4 address space some time next year.
In an update to its Plan for Enhancing Internet Security, Stability and Resiliency, published yesterday, ICANN said it “expects to make the last allocations of IPv4 unicast space to the Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) during the calendar year 2011.”
While this means ICANN will largely be out of the IPv4 business, it does not of course mean that there will be no IPv4 address space left to be allocated to ISPs and businesses.
ICANN points out that the RIRs will still have their pools of unallocated addresses, and that they’ve been drawing up plans to hand out smaller blocks to new ISPs as well as allowing the transfer of IPv4 addresses between networks.
The confirmation that 2011 is the year that IPv4 dries up is not unanticipated. ICANN has been flagging it up as the likely timeframe for a few years now.
The solution to the problem is IPv6, which is large enough to never run out of addresses. The trick is making sure the new protocol is universally supported, so IPv6 networks can talk to IPv4 networks and vice versa.
The updated security plan document contains a few other nibbles of interest.
For instance, the security budget for the next year is down slightly on the last, $11.52 million versus $12.8 million, largely due to a requirement last year to build out a secure data center.
There’s also the admission that ICANN has developed an as-yet unpublished “Meetings Security Plan”, presumably in response to the terrorism fears that kept many constituents at home for the Nairobi meeting in March.