IANA assigns IPv4 addresses to the RIRs in blocks that equate to 1/256th of the entire IPv4 address space. Each block is referred to as a "/8" or "slash-8". A global policy agreed on by all five RIR communities and ratified in 2009 by ICANN, the international body responsible for the IANA function, dictated that when the IANA IPv4 free pool reached five remaining /8 blocks, these blocks were to be simultaneously and equally distributed to the five RIRs.
"This is an historic day in the history of the Internet, and one we have been anticipating for quite some time," states Raul Echeberria, Chairman of the Number Resource Organization (NRO), the official representative of the five RIRs. "The future of the Internet is in IPv6. All Internet stakeholders must now take definitive action to deploy IPv6."
"This is truly a major turning point in the on-going development of the Internet," said Rod Beckstrom, ICANN's President and Chief Executive Officer. "Nobody was caught off guard by this, the Internet technical community has been planning for IPv4 depletion for quite some time. But it means the adoption of IPv6 is now of paramount importance, since it will allow the Internet to continue its amazing growth and foster the global innovation we?ve all come to expect."
IPv6 is the "next generation" of the Internet Protocol, providing a hugely expanded address space and allowing the Internet to grow into the future. "Billions of people world wide use the Internet for everything from sending tweets to paying bills. The transition to IPv6 from IPv4 represents an opportunity for even more innovative applications without the fear of running out of essential Internet IP addresses," said Vice President of IANA Elise Gerich.
Adoption of IPv6 is now vital for all Internet stakeholders. The RIRs have been working with network operators at the local, regional, and global level for more than a decade to offer training and advice on IPv6 adoption and ensure that everyone is prepared for the exhaustion of IPv4.
"Each RIR will have its final full /8 from IANA, plus any existing IP address holdings to distribute. Depending on address space requests received, this could last each RIR anywhere from a few weeks to many months. It's only a matter of time before the RIRs and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) must start denying requests for IPv4 address space. Deploying IPv6 is now a requirement, not an option," added Echeberria. IPv6 address space has been available since 1999. Visit http://www.nro.net/ipv6/ for more information on IPv6, or your local RIR for information on how to get address space.