Gartner Research

IPv4 Address Exhaustion: An Inconvenient Truth

Published: 09 January 2009

ID: G00203646

Analyst(s): Jeff Young


In the early 1990's, a crisis caused a call to action among Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) engineers--the Internet would exhaust its address space by 2000. The call to action produced three solutions. For a while, Classless Inter-Domain Routing (CIDR) and Network Address Translation (NAT) moved the exhaustion date to 2037; today, we estimate that it will be 2010 to 2012. In this report, Senior Analyst Jeff Young looks at issues that surround Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) and IPv6 as the last IPv4 address is consumed.

Table Of Contents

Summary of Findings


  • Inconvenient Truths
  • IPv4 Address Pool Exhaustion
  • When Will It Happen?
  • What Does Exhaustion Mean?
    • What Does It Really Mean?
    • What Does It Mean to Enterprises?
    • What Does It Mean to ISPs?
    • What Does It Mean to Average Users?
  • Why Aren't We Ready?
    • Internet Operations
    • Blame the Users
    • Blame the Technology
    • Blame the ISPs
    • Blame the IETF
  • What Are the Possible Remedies?
    • Extending the Life of IPv4
    • Increase the Use of Network Address Translation
    • Migrate to IPv6
    • Backward Compatibility
  • Market Impact
    • Effects of the Market on the Internet
    • Will the Market Cause Trouble?
    • Prerequisites for a Market
    • Resource Public Key Infrastructure
    • IPv4: A Free Market
  • Recommendations
    • Take Inventory
    • Review IP Address Management
    • Reconsider Your ISPs
    • Deploy IPv6 at the Edge

The Details

  • Just What Is an IP Address?
  • Assigning Numbers
    • Applying for IP Space
    • The HD Factor
  • IP Address “Ownership”
    • Who Is WHOIS?
    • Routing Registries
    • IP Address Value
    • IPv4 Address Exhaustion
    • When?



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