[arin-ppml] Pros and Cons of a liberalized transfer policy

Thomas Narten narten at us.ibm.com
Thu Sep 4 14:36:13 EDT 2008

> Therefore, in this thread I would like some help to map out the argument 
> space we are working with.  I would like us to intentionally simplify the 
> arguments and gloss over many of the nuances.  What I'm asking for us to 
> do is map out the breath and shape of the argument space we are dealing 
> with here, rather than to perfectly capture the nuances of each
> argument.

Here is my summary based on what I have seen in the last 2 weeks
(and I don't think arguments have changed much in a VERY long time):

Is there anything I am missing?

To be helpful, it is probably not useful to expand on these in a lot
of detail. I think many of the frequent posters have made their
positions clear many times over. What I am interested in hearing is
whether there is another argument (pro or con) that is not covered
adequately below.

Why a revised transfer policy is needed:

 - buy/selling/trading of address blocks already happens
   today. Sometimes directly (recent Ebay sale attempt), sometimes
   less directly (i.e., as an "asset" in a larger merger/acquisition).

   To the degree that ARIN can step in and bring clarity to the market
   (i.e., legitimize true ownership of a block, record transfers in
   whois, in-addr.arpa, etc.), this helps/benefits the community at

 - provide incentive to holders to return underutlized blocks. (there
   is non-zero cost associated with doing this), and holders that have
   space to return today have no incentive to do the work (spend the
   $$) if they get nothing in return, not even cost recovery. 

 - we will exhaust the IPv4 free pool; transfer policies will increase
   (perhaps only slightly) the availability of unused address blocks
   to sites after ARIN runs out

     - unclear who will sell and who will buy. Big users (large ISPs)
       need large blocks, which will be in the most short supply.

 - ARIN will become increasingly irrelevant if trading/selling goes on
   and it has no role (e.g., with WHOIS, impacting minimum prefix
   sizes, etc.). But since market pressures will cause buy/selling to
   happen no matter what, ARIN will make itself irrelevent if it has
   no role. When an ISP/enterprise needs space, and one way to get it
   is to shell out $$, if the price is right (compared to other
   options), they will do so.

   Today, ARIN does have influence over block sizes and deaggration
   and such. Not complete influence, but some. If transfers happen
   outside of ARIN's influence, ARIN's ability to influence/curb
   undesirable behavior decreases. In the worst case, ARIN has no role

 - The broader community not served by having whois/in-addr.arpa data
   increasingly wrong. It is not the actual owner of the block that
   suffers when such information is wrong, it is the rest of the
   community. ARIN should be doing all that it can to maintain
   accurate information. 

 - other RIRs will have a transfer policy doing it, and ARIN will
   stick out if it does not. There is only one global internet after

 - IPv6 is not deployed today and won't be before exhaustion. Public
   IPv4 addresses will still be needed for transition. A revised
   transfer policy is part of ensuring such address space remains

 - Roughly 50% of the assigned space is "legacy", meaning it was
   assigned before the RIRs existed. Moreover, the vast majority of
   underutilized space is in the legacy area, when larger blocks were
   given out to the early adopters.  The vast number of legacy holders
   also happen to be in the ARIN region
   (http://www.nro.net/documents/presentations/jointstats.v1.0608.pdf). With
   ARIN responsible for so much of the legacy space, ARIN's transfer
   policy (or lack thereof) will have the most impact across all the

 - one of the key hindrances today with IPv6 deployment (or lack
   thereof) is the unclear ROI. Having addressing markets - with clear
   costs associated with obtaining IPv4 addresses helps externalize
   the actual cost of IPv4 address exhaustion. Having a market with
   real $$ amounts associated with IPv4 addresses will help justify
   the cost of moving to IPv4.

 - IPv4 is not going away anytime soon, regardless of IPv6
   uptake. Even when/if IPv6 becomes widely used, there will still be
   legacy usages. Prudent stewardship of those IPv4 addresses will
   still be relevant.

 - clear ownership titles for address blocks will become increasingly
   important in the future. We can't secure routing, without being
   able to identify who is is authorized to speak on behalf of
   particular address blocks. Today, RIRs provide such information via
   WHOIS and in-addr.arpa delegations. In the future, via signed
   certificates. This is needed to keep to keep the internet running
   securely and stably (i.e, track down spam/abuse/law
   enforcement/etc.). Of course, this sort of info is only useful if
   it reflects is accurate and reflects reality.


 - address trading/buying/selling doesn't happen. So, there is no
   reason to do this. [yes, some people still say this.]
 - nothing is needed. addresses are not property. The current system
   is working just fine. (buy/selling of addresses does not happen
   today) [although perhaps an extreme view, I have seen this view
   expressed repeatedly]

 - Liberalizing the transfer policy will cause a market to develop. We
   would be facilite creation of a system that has many
   downsides. Best not to go there at all.

 - Legitimizing address markets will increase fragmentation of address
   space, contributing to routing table bloat (which potentially
   serious consequences). Note that fragementation is a result of
   transfering pieces of larger address blocsk. This will happen if
   trading happens on the black market. But a transfer policy may
   increase the amount of transfers that take place, exacerbating the

 - Not "fair" to end sites to have to pay for address space; not fair
   for holders of underutilized blocks to recieve a "windfall" when
   they sell addresses

   related issue: roughly half of the assigned space is "legacy" and
   the vast majority of underutilized space is in the legacy area.
   These legacy holders reside disproportionately in developed
   economies, meaning that the "windfall" would benefit developed
   economies at the expense of those less able to pay (i.e, the less
   developed economies, which came to the Internet after the

 - anything that extends IPv4 lifetime delays IPv6 uptake. We should
   do everything possible to encourage fast deployment of IPv6, since
   that is the best overall strategy.

 - the rate of address consumption is so large (dozen /8s per year)
   that a market of address available via transfers is unlikely to
   come anywhere near matching demand. so why bother.

 - Changing the transfer policy won't really change much, so there is
   no need to do anything. We will only cause ourselves grief by doing

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