TREND REPORT: D-Day approaching for Latin America IPv4 addresses

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Latin America is due to run out of IPv4 internet addresses this year with an estimated exhaustion date of June 29, according to the Internet Address Registry for Latin America and the Caribbean (Lacnic).

Internet protocols essentially route packets of information across the internet from a source host to a destination host. They also have an addressing system which is limited in supply. The exhaustion of this supply of addresses has been anticipated since the 1980s and is the reason for the development and deployment of the successor protocol, IPv6.

IPv6 has an almost infinite address capacity and migration to this protocol is essential to allow the future growth of the internet.

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Companies need to make some minor technical adjustments to equipment to be IPv6 compliant and ensure their websites are visible using IPv6.

But like everything in life, people often don't move until they have no other choice and organizations like the Internet Society (Isoc) have been rallying for years to persuade companies to get ahead of the curve before it becomes too costly and complex. In February, Lacnic stepped up its evangelizing efforts, touring the region to convince the public and private sectors alike to adopt IPv6.

On June 6, 2012 IPv6 was officially launched after having been successfully tested worldwide.


Lacnic reported this month that only 8,388,606 IPv4 addresses remain, having already assigned 178mn since 2002. The organization said it is entering a new exhaustion phase (phase 1) that will run until there are 4,194,302 addresses remaining. From this stage onwards, evaluation of applications for IPv4 addresses will become increasingly strict.

Latin America became the first of the five Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) – to which IP addresses are distributed – to reach their last block of remaining IPv4 address space ending in /9.

This triggered a global policy that states that the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), which is a department of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) – the organization that coordinates the internet's global domain name system – must start assigning from the small pool of IPv4 addresses that have been returned to it.

This space must be distributed equally among the five RIRs – Lacnic, Afrinic (Africa), Apnic (Asia and Oceania), Arin (North America) and Ripe Ncc (Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia). Each RIR received the equivalent of 2.097mn IPv4 addresses.

This will likely be one of the last significant allocations the RIRs receive.

More than six out of 10 internet organizations pertaining to the Lacnic service region have already received at least one IPv6 address block.

According to Lacnic's technical records, Brazil leads the ranking of countries with the most IPv6 assignments, followed by Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, Chile, Costa Rica and Ecuador.

Quoted recently by Lacnic News, the organization's policy office Juan Peirano said failure to implement IPv6 will limit an ISP's ability to reach new users and generate new services and applications.

This is imperative given the current trend toward the 'Internet of Things' where almost every device 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."

According to the executive, the adoption of the new protocol will be almost transparent for end users. Problems will only arise if growth ceases to occur and internet users find themselves affected by low connectivity, high costs and an important number of errors.