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Deploy360 31 May 2017

MIT Goes on IPv4 Selling Spree

Aftab Siddiqui
By Aftab SiddiquiTechnical Engagement Manager for Asia-Pacific

Last month, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) announced that they will be selling at least 8 million IPv4 addresses from their unused 14 million. With the current price of IPv4 averaging around $10/address, they are likely to get a huge sum after selling these unused blocks; they’ve stated they want to support activities focused on the future of the Internet (like financing their IPv6 network upgrade) and the global cyber-infrastructure with this amount.

We saw the transfers of approximately 2.7 million IPv4 addresses last month. It wasn’t a single /11 or /12, but 26 different IPv4 address blocks between /14 and /16.

These are the blocks that were transferred as mentioned on the ARIN Transfers page: [18.145.0.0/16, 18.151.0.0/16, 18.153.0.0/16, 18.162.0.0/16, 18.164.0.0/16, 18.184.0.0/15, 18.188.0.0/16, 18.191.0.0/16, 18.194.0.0/15, 18.196.0.0/15, 18.202.0.0/15, 18.204.0.0/14, 18.209.0.0/16, 18.210.0.0/15, 18.213.0.0/16, 18.215.0.0/16, 18.216.0.0/15, 18.219.0.0/16, 18.220.0.0/14, 18.224.0.0/14, 18.228.0.0/16, 18.231.0.0/16, 18.233.0.0/16, 18.236.0.0/15, 18.246.0.0/16, 18.253.0.0/16].

Amazon bought these blocks from MIT; the rate they paid is not publicly known.

MIT started announcing 18.166.0.0/16 on 7 April 2017 from AS3, as per RIPE BGPlay stats. So, we may likely see more discontiguous blocks being transferred because there are still 5.5 million addresses left in the MIT bucket that they want to sell. Almost 17 years ago Jeffrey Schiller, network manager at MIT, said that “MIT doesn’t want to spend the money to renumber its network”.

MIT is among a number of institutions that have been sitting on large IPv4 address blocks from the beginning of the internet. The LCS NET at MIT’s Laboratory for Computer Science got the 18.0.0.0/8 back in 1977. RFC739, published in November 1977 by Jon Postel, mentioned all the Class A (/8) assignments.

This is probably the biggest purchase of IPv4 addresses in a single transaction. Ironically, when Microsoft bought 667,000 IPv4 addresses in 2011 from Nortel for $7.5 million, it became headline news everywhere but when they bought 1.8 million IPv4 addresses [20.160.0.0/12,20.180.0.0/14, 20.184.0.0/13] from Computer Science Corporation (currently known as DXC Technolgy) in February 2017, it didn’t get nearly the same limelight.

So why we are sharing all this IPv4 transfer news? The answer is simple: to let people know that companies like Google, Amazon, Microsoft etc. will buy the biggest chunks of clean IPv4 addresses still available in the secondary market but the resource is limited and won’t be available forever (a few more years, tops) and eventually will become very expensive. This should be the warning signal for you if you haven’t deployed IPv6 in your own network.

If you want to find out more about how to deploy IPv6 in your network, you can check out our IPv6 resources, attend any of our upcoming IPv6 training events (workshop/tutorial) around the world, or reach out to us and let us know how can we help.

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