North American Regional Internet Registry ARIN recently announced that transfers of its IPv4 address space will be allowed to Asia. These transfers will only originate from IPv4 space that’s already been allocated by ARIN so there should be no direct effect on the rate at which ARIN exhausts its unallocated supply of IPv4 addresses. But potential North American purchasers of IPv4 space must now contend with buyers in Asia who are already arguably suffering from pent-up demand as a result of APNIC having exhausted their IPv4 supply back in 2011. Of course, more buyers pursuing the same (or a shrinking) quantity of goods will result in what unemployed economists like to call “inflationary pressure.” Along with IPv4 exhaustion in general, it’s a development soon likely to make the $12 per address paid to Borders receivership for their /16 seem cheap by comparison.
A secondary effect of this new policy may be to compel providers in one region to accept (or continue to accept) the announcement of IP space from other regions. Some of the usefulness of these “provider independent” prefixes is premised on their announcement being allowed anywhere. This ultimate portability becomes especially important as global networks flatten and routing policy becomes less confederated and/or hierarchical. These trends are likely to continue as virtualized networks emerge, taking advantage of more dynamic provisioning methods. While the abundance of IPv6 might reduce the frequency of renumbering, ultimate architectural flexibility depends at least somewhat on having address resources that are not restricted to a single geographic region. As a result, policies by agencies or service providers that restrict announcements based on geography may continue to face market pressure to loosen such restrictions. Transfers of IP space between agencies are likely only to increase such pressure.
By the way, I’m headed to Singapore for the IDA IPv6 conference next week so if anyone wants me to shuttle some IPv4 addresses let me know. My rates are low and I have a briefcase I can lock to my wrist.