IPv4 Addresses to Be Exhausted in May: Latin America and the Caribbean at a Crossroads

24/02/2014

The time has come. In May, IPv4 addresses will be exhausted and the adoption of IPv6 technology will become a pressing need to maintain and increase Internet growth levels in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Juan Peirano, Policy Officer at LACNIC, the Internet Address Registry for Latin America and the Caribbean, leads one of the teams that has begun a series of visits and meetings with government authorities and the private sector throughout the region aimed informing them about the exhaustion of Internet Protocol version 4 and discussing what actions should be taken to ensure normal Internet growth in each country.

In order to make the transition as smooth as possible and ensure continued Internet growth through a secure and stable transition to Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6), this new phase requires active participation of all stakeholders.

Interviewed by Lacnic News, Peirano noted that IPv4 exhaustion puts the region at a crossroads “where we must choose between the path (IPv6) that will lead to secure, stable Internet growth and one that will delay the rest of the world and prevent mass adoption of the Internet.”

What is the goal of the IPv6 tour that will visit the different countries of our region?

The main goal of the tour is to raise awareness among the LACNIC community about the imminent exhaustion of the regular IPv4 address pool due to occur in May, and to promote and support IPv6 development and deployment across the Internet ecosystem throughout our region.

The IPv4 exhaustion phase is expected to begin in the month of May. What does this mean?

Basically, IPv4 address availability will be greatly restricted once the regular pool is depleted. Only very small volumes of addresses will be available under extremely rigid resource allocation policies.

Why is it important for both countries and providers to have IPv6 address blocks?

This can be considered the first major step towards the protocol’s adoption. The goal of the tour is that organizations will not only have an IPv6 block, but that they will also begin the road towards its prompt implementation, as Internet growth depends entirely on the adoption of IP protocol version 6.

Is there any alternative solution to the deployment of IPv6?

Alternative solutions are based on NAT technology and private addressing. They are very similar to home routers in that several devices are connected through a single IPv4 address.

These solutions, however, are NOT scalable. They are also highly restrictive in the long term, not to mention the high costs involved in their adoption.

In many cases, this type of solution can be used as a support mechanism during the transition to IPv6, but they can never be considered a final solution for any type of network, no matter how small.

Why are these intermediate solutions more expensive in the long run?

NAT-based solutions have a technical limitation which is that they need ports to translate public addresses into private addresses. This means that very expensive equipment with major processing capabilities is required which, in turn, limits the number of addresses they can handle.

If this type of solution is used, there will comes a time when the equipment can no longer process the necessary number of addresses and, in order for the network to continue to grow, you will need another similar computer, thus creating a very expensive cycle.

Likewise, because they are more likely to fail or introduce errors in the applications “running” on a network, these solutions involve higher maintenance and increased technical support.

Will the lack of IPv6 addresses affect an ISP’s business or a country’s plans for Internet development?

Absolutely. From a business point of view, failure to implement IPv6 will limit an ISP’s ability to reach new users and generate new services and applications. Networks can’t grow with IPv4 alone, even more so considering that current trends point to the “Internet of Things,” where almost every device we use in our daily lives will be connected to the Internet.

From a government point of view, plans for universal access could be seriously hindered due to a lack of addressing. In this case it is of vital importance that governments lead IPv6 deployment, thus allowing all community members to have equal access.

How will Internet users benefit from their providers’ adoption of the IPv6 protocol?

The adoption of the new protocol will be almost transparent for end users, as we are already used to increasing connectivity.

The problem will arise when this growth ceases to occur and Internet users find ourselves affected by low connectivity, high costs and an important number of errors.

This is why our region is at a crossroads where we must choose between the path that will lead to secure, stable Internet growth and one that will delay the rest of the world and prevent mass adoption of the Internet.

How many organizations within the region have already been assigned IPv6 addresses?

More than 60% of the organizations in LACNIC’s service region have already received an IPv6 block. As I mentioned earlier, this is the first step towards deployment, so LACNIC hopes that this figure will continue to grow in the months to come.

If you’d like to know more about the four phases and procedures involved in the IPv4 address exhaustion process in the LACNIC region, please go to http://www.lacnic.net/web/lacnic/agotamiento-ipv4

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