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IPv4 address exhaustion: Issues and Solutions for Service Providers
For further information please contact:

Halid Hrasnica
Programme Manager
Wieblinger Weg 19/4
69123 Heidelberg, Germany

Project Information
What is this Project about?

By the end of 2012, it is expected that the Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) will have no more public IPv4 addresses to allocate. At the exhaustion date, Service Providers will wind up with public IPv4 address pools that cannot grow. Offering only access to the IPv6 Internet won't be satisfactory for the customers because a lot of services will remain IPv4-only accessible. Therefore, even if IPv6 is the only perennial solution, and even if ISPs must not postpone their IPv6 deployment, the ISPs cannot afford to provide only IPv6 Internet access to their customers when their public IPv4 address pools stop increasing. ISPs need to continue to provide IPv4 Internet access to their customers if they do not want to see their business completely stalled, if not decreasing. Several solutions have been proposed to deal with IPv4 address shortage and IPv4 address exhaustion. They all rely on the principle of sharing an IPv4 public address among several customers.

This study will provide an ISP-centric point of view on the issues and impacts of IPv4 address sharing solutions that need to be implemented by the ISPs in order to survive the IPv4 public address exhaustion. The study makes the following assumption:

  • IPv4 shared address solutions are needed to ensure the continuity of ISPs business
  • IPv4 shared address solutions are not meant to postpone IPv6 (which is by no means contradictory with the previous assertions)
  • IPv6 is the only solution to solve the IP address depletion problem
  • IPv6 is being deployed by the ISPs The study scope is as follows:
  • The study considers IPv4 shared address solutions
  • The study does not try to devise new IPv4 shared address solutions
  • The study does not deal with how IPv6 deployment should occur
  • The study considers IPv4 Internet communications from both fixed broadband access and mobile 3G access
  • The study considers walled garden services, with an emphasis on VoIP
  • The time frame is short to mid-term (solution deployment by 2012)

What are the main objectives of this Project?

The objectives of this study are:

  • Alert ISPs on the impact of the forthcoming IPv4 shortage on their business
  • As a result of this study ISPs should get in depth knowledge and understanding of the forthcoming IPv4 public address depletion problem and of the IPv4 address sharing solutions, in order to help them to define their own choices and strategy.
  • Provide decision guidelines for ISPs

Project participants:

  • France Telecom
  • Deutsche Telekom
  • Portugal Telecom
  • Eircom
Project Results
Deliverable Title  No Issue date
Alert on IPv4 public address exhaustion D1 September 2009
IPv4 Address Exhaustion - Solutions, Solution impacts and Guidelines for ISPs D2 March 2010
P1952 Eurescom study results summary D2bis March 2010
Presentation on: IPv4 Address Exhaustion - Solutions, Solution impacts and Guidelines for ISPs D3 March 2010