[arin-ppml] Policy Proposal 93: Predicable IPv4 Run Out by Prefix Size - Revised

Tom Vest tvest at pch.net
Sat Jun 20 15:04:28 EDT 2009

On Jun 20, 2009, at 5:27 AM, <michael.dillon at bt.com> wrote:

>> The goal is to preserve industry openness as long as it takes
>> for that environmental shift to occur.
> Unfortunately, IPv4 runout is an absolute limit to growth, and unless
> some companies shift early and give up their IPv4 addresses, we will
> runout and be unable to serve new entrants.

That would be an unfortunate, and truly surprising/disappointing  
development, given the precedent established by previous addressing  
format transitions.
But since you decided to delete the relevant sections of this thread,  
I guess you don't want to talk about that anymore (?).

If you're right, then I guess we can just wait and see how fortunate  
or unfortunate it really is.

>>> This is fact, not fiction. The only reason that IPv6 and
>>> IPv4 are not easily substitutable today is because the networking
>>> industry (equipment vendors and operators) are dragging their feet.
>> But Michael, when we say "the industry," we're talking about us.
>> There is no "they" in "dragging their feet" that is not us.
> Unfortunately, you are wrong. The people on PPML are such a small
> subset of the industry, that it is wrong to think that they are
> us. In addition, most of the people on PPML are not decision
> makers on any kind of scale. There may be CEOs here, but they
> run small network businesses. The big organizations, if they are
> represented here at all, are not represented by key decision
> makers.
> In addition, consolidation of the ISP industry and telecom
> industry, has meant that most of the Internet is now controlled
> by large companies, and we all know that decision making in
> large companies is complex and diffuse.

I agree of course. It was that larger "we" that I was referring to,  
and that larger "we" that, I suspect, increases the uncertainty and  
risk surrounding this particular moment of truth.

> I think that the people on this list are more likely to be
> pioneers of IPv6, pushing their companies, their employers,
> their vendors, to get IPv6 ready for full commercial deployment.

I agree here again, and I am only too aware how unwelcome some of my  
concerns have been to some of "us." But Michael, consider the  
implications of what you're claiming. I've been using this forum,  
pretty much exclusively, to describe what I think are credible  
concerns about the looming challenges and how policy might or might  
not affect them. I've been using this forum because I've been assuming  
that it's the right way to address those decision makers -- directly  
or indirectly -- who will determine whether we'll get through these  
changes with *important* and *unique* and *historically unprecedented*  
features of the Internet sector intact, if not strengthened -- or  
alternately if those features will get lost in the transition. I've  
been using this forum, pretty much exclusively, because I truly  
believe what I wrote before about governance structures -- another  
passage you decided to edit out of this exchange. In this case I'll  
restore it:

> Every governance arrangement that endures for any length of time  
> does so because of a combination of internal and external support.
> One of the best ways to preserve that support, on both sides, is to  
> keep the barrier between internal and external stakeholders low, so  
> it's easy to transition back and forth as circumstances dictate. One  
> of the fastest ways to erode that support is to let the barrier  
> ossify, creating a permanent caste of privileged insiders vs.  
> everyone else.

You're now suggesting that, regardless of my concerns, there's no  
point in sharing them in this internal forum because "we" have no real  
influence over how things turn out, including the disposition of  
policies that might exacerbate or meliorate the looming transition  
challenges. By my actions I am demonstrating that I disagree, so I can  
only hope that you're wrong about this.

>> An incumbent IPv4 holder who needs to grow in a post-IPv4
>> environment has three choices:
>> 1. Beg/borrow/buy IPv4 from another incumbent 2. RFC 1918 +
>> reshuffle 3. IPv6
>> A new entrant will have, at best, (1) -- but they'll be
>> competing with all of the incumbents who will still be
>> preferring that over the alternatives.
> And that is the elephant in room number 1. New entrants
> will not be able to beg, borrow or buy any IPv4 addresses
> until IPv6 is widely deployed.

Again, for the sake of all of "us" -- and everyone else -- I hope  
you're mistaken.

>> The winning public argument for transfer markets depended
>> heavily on the assertion that there would be substantial
>> continuing demand for
>> IPv4 *among incumbents.*
>> Without that element, the transfer proposals would have taken
>> on an entirely different character.
> It doesn't really matter. With virtually zero supply available
> there won't be any transfers except for a few speculators who
> have been sitting on unused addresses.
> --Michael Dillon

Well, on this count we agree once again. But speculators (or "market  
makers" as they're often called in other sectors) are a permanent,  
ubiquitous feature of markets, wherever there is a market. (BTW, have  
you noticed what's been happening to oil prices over the last week?)

And -- once again referring back to exchanges that you chose to delete  
from this thread -- the opportunity that "market makers" will be  
targeting will not be IPv4 per se, but rather portable IP addresses  
that are capable of supporting additional/new independent routing  
services, i.e., the kind that are mandatory for new entrants to exist.  
Anyone who's been paying attention to what happened in the broader  
economy over the last couple of years will probably agree that  
professional speculators may be guilty of ethical deficits, and also  
of an unhealthy capacity for self-deception, but they're rarely  
stupid, or ignorant of the conditions that permit them to exist and  
thrive. They just tend to work very hard to sustain those conditions  
until the absolute last possible minute, which the rest of us  
sometimes belatedly discover was actually about 2-3 years in the past.  
Once transfers have been institutionalized, the market will be a  
permanent reality for us -- regardless of whether there are a million  
transactions or zero transactions, i.e., regardless of whether it  
"promotes liquidity" (its intended effect) or it has the opposite  
effect (which you and I seem to agree is more likely).

... which is (just one of several reasons) why I have advocated  
mechanisms other than transfers/privatization to help us get past this  
unavoidable challenge.


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