The pool of available IPv4 addresses was exhausted on 1 February, 2011, triggering the Global Policy for the Allocation of the Remaining IPv4 Address Space. The RIPE NCC now has only a limited amount of IPv4 address space left (known as the 'last /8'). IPv4 addresses from the last /8 can only be allocated to RIPE NCC members (LIRs). Members can receive just one block of 1,024 IPv4 addresses from the last /8. Although the RIPE NCC's supply of available IPv4 address space is limited, the Internet will continue to function and there will be no immediate visible difference to you whether you access the Internet using an IPv4 or IPv6 address.
However, it is important that your Internet Service Provider (ISP) deploys IPv6 on its networks and starts offering its customers access to the Internet over IPv6. If your ISP fails to do this in the near future, you may find that you cannot reach some parts of the Internet if the destination is on an IPv6 only network and your ISP has not provided its customers with an IPv6 address.
The RIPE NCC, along with the other four Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) and many other industry organisations and stakeholders, has been working tirelessly to inform ISPs, network operators, businesses and governments about the urgent need to deploy IPv6.
IPv4 and IPv6
Every device connected to the Internet needs a unique number, known as an IP address. There are two types of IP address: IPv4 and IPv6. When the commercial Internet was in its infancy, the pool of around 4 billion IPv4 addresses seemed huge. No one could have predicted the impact the Internet had on our lives and it soon became clear that the pool of IPv4 addresses was not going to last as long as was hoped. IPv6 was developed as the solution. The pool of IPv6 addresses contains 2 128 IPv6 addresses, or roughly 340 trillion, trillion, trillion addresses.
However, IPv4 and IPv6 are not directly compatible. This means that network and content operators need to make their networks and websites available over both IPv4 and IPv6 for the foreseeable future so that everyone can access the Internet whether they are using an IPv4 or an IPv6 address to do so.
More about IPv4 exhaustion and IPv6 deployment
- How did IPv4 addresses run out and what can we do about it?
- What are the Regional Internet Registries (RIRs)?
- How does the RIPE NCC allocate and assign IP address space?
- How are the policies on IPv4 and IPv6 distribution defined? Find out more about the the RIPE Policy Development Process and how you can get involved
- FAQs on IPv4 and IPv6