There’s a fascinating exchange of views over at Ars Technica on the question of “Should there be a free market for IPv4 addresses?” Or, to put it another way:
Should companies be able to buy and sell their IPv4 address blocks?
If you recall, back in March Microsoft purchased a block of IPv4 addresses from Nortel for $7.5 million, and with the ongoing depletion of IPv4 addresses available from registries, this approach of purchasing IPv4 addresses may become more common.
The two sides of the debate are represented by:
Both make for interesting reading.
I definitely agree with Iljitsch that on a technical level, a free market for IPv4 addresses will lead to severe fragmentation of the overall routing tables… and just make a big mess in general. I also agree with Iljitsch that broader adoption of IPv6 would take care of these issues… but as strong an advocate as I am of IPv6, I’m skeptical that companies will move until they are forced to… or until it becomes extremely easy for them to do so.
That said, as I mentioned in our recent webinar about IPv6 and communication applications, I fully expect to see more of these kind of transactions occurring. There are simple economics – for many companies the current cost of transitioning to IPv6 (even just undertaking the planning) outweighs the current cost of purchasing IPv4 address blocks.
Will it evolve into the full-blown free market that Timothy Lee would like to see? I don’t know… I think at some point the cost of IPv4 address blocks will start to escalate to the point where IPv6 transition will suddenly seem like a good deal. So if a free market is to exist, I see it as a temporary situation at best (where “temporary” may admittedly be measured in years)
Regardless, it’s a discussion that needs to be had because this kind of exchange of IPv4 addresses is certainly one way that companies will try to stay on IPv4 for as long as possible.
What do you think? Should there be a free market for IPv4 addresses? Or should that be restricted and not permitted?