[arin-ppml] Suggestion: charging for IPv4 space

Olivier MJ Crepin-Leblond ocl at gih.com
Tue Oct 21 18:18:10 EDT 2008


Although I am not representing any registry and although this is my first
post here, I have been reading debates on this mailing list for a little
while and I can clearly see that the issue of IPv4 to IPv6 transition
strikes quite a few chords, so I think that this is the right forum to post
into. I am consulting each RIR discussion list separately, so sorry for
the cross-posting, but I feel it is important to take this issue up separately
in each region of the world.

Through discussions I've had with dozens of people (some of whom may
be reading this message), I have noticed the following:

- currently, neither IPv4 nor IPv6 address delegation are directly linked to
any kind of significant recurent *annual* fee;
- some ISPs are considering introducing IPv6 connectivity to customers
*for a premium* rather than IPv4 (yes, sadly, it's true);
- we've had 10+ years of slogan "we are running out of IPv4 addresses" and
this has not "hit the spot" to get a transitional process going;
- sadly, there is a lack of IPv6 "killer ap" to promote the use of IPv6 over IPv4;
- availability of several IPv6 "islands" exist on the Internet, with very poor
"trans-island" connectivity (although I am told that this is s-l-o-w-l-y improving -
and that's good news);
- a lot of stigmas are associated with IPv6 (our customers do not request it;
there is no demand; etc.)

Clearly, we could all go on talking for another 10 years about IPv6. But
we don't have 10 years.
So what's the hurdle?

Let's be fair, folks, it all boils down to a question of *money*.

v4 to v6 transition is seen as an expensive exercise. Darn, with hardware, software
& training, transition is expensive! Had it been cheap, we wouldn't be in the
*utter mess* that we are in today because it would have been a natural thing
to do.

So we are going to run out of "greenfield IPv4" addresses by, say, 25 Dec 2010.
Or earlier. Or later. Whatever. What we know is that we'll run out. <Boom>.

IPv4 addresses will become a limited commodity. Speculators are going to
step in, and they are likely to do it at a shockingly fast speed.
(eg. Cantel & Siegel's Green Card Lottery announced mass spamming;
the sex.com case announced the worth of domain names).

My suggestion (and others here, namely Ted and Ron have already touched 
on the idea) is therefore to engage a study of the following "positive 
discrimination" proposal:

1. Introducing a *recurrent annual* cost-element to IPv4 addresses,
the reason behind it being: making v6 cheaper to run than v4. This could be a
small cost to start with, increasing significantly but steadily along a scale for 
the next few years.
This should act more as a *deterrent* for the use of IPv4 in the future than as
a "tax" to be paid now. Heck, it might even start cleaning up IPv4 space and
giving us more time to transit to v6 through the release of more IPv4 space!
Those effects are hard to predict.

2. Building a v4 to v6 neutral & non-for-profit transition fund from the 
IPv4 revenue.
This fund could finance/subsidise the following:
a. the initial bridging of the IPv6 islands until those would be able to fly
b. IPv6 tech training
c. any other project that would trigger/help v4 to v6 transition

If we do not make IPv6 more interesting financially, we risk failure to transit
This will cause a *much greater problem* than Domain speculation since
IP addressing constitutes the very fabric of the Internet:

1. Panic in operators who might then try and grab as much v4 space as
possible, thus compounding the problem;
2. Panic transition from v4 to v6 which will completely forego the transition
testing period which Peter Kirstein (UCL London) has mentioned many
times, thus introducing instability in the Internet;
3. A lack of fully qualified technicians & engineers to run IPv6 networks;
4. A "free" market for IPv4 addresses where prices quickly spiral out
of control.

I am trying to look for a solution which will ease the shock by instead
smoothly raising prices. A totally unregulated increase is to be feared.
The rate of increase might have a greater impact than the price itself - see
oil prices if you're not convinced: we can "survive" with oil at $140 a barrel,
but we are hurt by the price going quickly from $70 a barrel to $140.
It messes the world's economy up because it changes the balance at once
in all of our business models.

I don't believe in self-regulation by the market - it opens itself to serious
abuse, in the same way Wall Street bankers abused the system and look
where this led us?

IPv4 is a *serious* show-stopper wrt the Internet's future development.
The Internet we are seeing today is still primarily accessed by computers 
but tomorrow, and tomorrow isn't far away, we're going to see increased 
use by mobile devices. There are also now several commercial products 
out there to access your home PC remotely. Next on the tab is the concept 
of having a home multimedia server that can be accessed remotely. And 
then we fall into consumer electronics - new TVs are now all digital-enabled 
& the rest of the "home entertainment" system is quickly becoming all digital. 
The "young generations" do not know CDs - their music travels on digital 
music players & laptops. And then comes the "Network of things" where 
sensors will talk to each other. This is just about to hit us, and our dinosaur 
IPv4 will be as suited to this as the steam engine is to the modern hydrid car. 
IPv6 will enable us to have cheap devices all connected to the Internet.

With instability creeping in the system, we risk several high profile
technical failures with repercussions not dissimilar to the current
failures in the banking sector. Do we really want this?

I shall be going to the ICANN Cairo conference and would be happy to 
discuss these matters in person. Come on, let's do something about this 
impending doom. I've lived the DOTCOM boom years and met with 
teenagers who told me they were going to conquer the world - *and they did*. 
IPv6 has the ability to infuse a breath of life in Internetting & the Internet 
Economy worldwide - on every continent. Seize the day. Don't wait until
someone tells you that you've failed.

Sorry for the length of the message & thanks for reading,


Olivier MJ Crepin-Leblond, Ph.D.
E-mail:<ocl at gih.com> | http://www.gih.com/ocl.html

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