Today's ARIN estimated depletion date:

Growth of the IPv6 only Internet


As you can see in my predictions, it is pretty clear that the IANA pool of IPv4 addresses will be depleted in next quarter. The figure below illustrates the endgame in details.


But then what? An interesting exercise is to look at the deficit of IPv4 addresses each region will encounter as time goes by. Assume that half of the deficit will be controlled by using multiple layers of NAT and that the other half of the deficit would be IPv6 only hosts. How big would then the IPv6 only Internet be at different future times?
If you rely on the Internet to do business you cannot ignore the growing population of IPv6 only hosts that aren’t able to communicate with you. You must start to deploy IPv6 even if you have plenty of IPv4 addresses available. Here is a likely scenario:

1 year from now – APNIC will run their IPv4 pool dry. After that, APNIC must rely on IPv6 for any network growth.

2 years from now – RIPE will get depleted. By that time there are already a deficit of around 8 x /8 worth of addresses in APNIC. Around 2% of the internet would be IPv6 only.

2.5 years from now – ARIN will run out of IPv4 addresses. The total deficit from RIPE and APNIC will now be around 16 x /8 with. Around 4% of the Internet will be IPv6 only.

4 to 5 years from now – Over 10% of the Internet will be IPv6 only.

Written by Stephan Lagerholm © 2010

13 Responses to “Growth of the IPv6 only Internet”

  1. Mindbuilder says on :

    At least until almost every server is ipv6 enabled, I doubt that almost anyone will sign up for internet service that doesn’t include ipv4 connectivity, by NAT at least. So I don’t foresee there being any significant number of ipv6 only hosts for a long time. ISPs will just convert current customers with public IPs, to NAT, in order to free up addresses as needed to satisfy the premium demand from customers who are willing to pay extra to be free of NAT on ipv4.

    From the point of view of current ISPs, the other great thing about this shortage of ipv4 addresses is that at least initially, it almost completely shuts out new ISP competition and hinders the growth of smaller ISPs.

  2. Michiel says on :

    I do not think ISP will go for Carrier Grade NAT on a large scale in this part of the world.

    First they’d get lots of complaints from customers. Most customers here are already behind a NAT in their home network. Peer to peer services are popular here. It is hard enough to let P2P services work through ONE NAT, most of them do not work through a double NAT.

    Second: GCNAT may solve the ISP’s local problem of shortage of IPv4 addresses, but it will not solve the global problem that the growing IPv6 only part of the internet will be unaccessible for their IPV4 only customers without more kludges such as tunnels and gateways.

    Third: In many countries, including The Netherlands, ISPs are by law required to keep logs that allow law enforcement to trace activities back to the user. Tracing it back to the household by IP number is considered good enough. But… if the IP number is not enough to trace back to one particular household, because it is shared among many, than satisfying the law becomes a LOT harder…

    It will be easier and more profitable in the long run for ISPs to invest in IPv6 than to invest in CGNAT. At least I hope they see it that way…

  3. John Mann says on :

    Mostly agreeing — I think:
    a) Existing residential customers with IPv4-only NAT44 CPEs will object to spending more money and stay NAT44 or change to NAT444 / LSN, and have a NAT’d IPv4-only experience. No access to IPv6-only sites :-(
    b) New or more savvy residential customers will be encouraged to buy more-capable CPEs for dual-stack PPP or 6rd or DSlite … and get IPv6 plus NAT’d IPv4.
    c) New services (New ISPs, LTE mobile, …) will be native IPv6-only, plus DNS64/NAT64 to get to IPv4-only sites. Or IPv6->IPv4 Web/application proxies or …
    d) Only in specialised cases will there be new IPv6-only Internet networks with *no* access to IPv4 at all.

    In certain demographics, users get most of their traffic from a small number of high-volume sites (think Google, YouTube, Gmail, Facebook, NetFlix, CNN, iTunes … whatever).
    When (soon) those sites support IPv6, native IPv6 users should get >50% of their traffic over IPv6.
    Native IPv6 for >50% traffic and DNS64/NAT64 for the long tail of other sites should be better than NAT444 for all traffic.

  4. Warren says on :

    I cannot see people willingly taking IPv6-only connections if it precludes them from getting to even 15% of the websites that they want to. They’ll simply find an ISP that provisions IPv4 resources to them (either directly or through some sort of NAT) and pay extra. The increased demand, and decreased supply, will increase prices until a balance is struck. At that point some people simply will go without access to v4-only sites and there will be increasing pressure to make sites ipv6 ready.

  5. Warren says on :

    The other comment I want to make is about future growth. There seems to be this assumption that just because the Internet is growing at a specific rate that it necessarily must continue that way. If access to the Internet becomes expensive we may see a slowing in, or stall in growth while the market balances itself.

    Although the demand for oil increases yearly, that doesn’t mean we have an unlimited supply. Eventually, our demand will outstrip the supply and either a) alternate fuels will emerge or b) demand will contract to meet supply (a balance being struck somewhere price-wise).

    In the early 20th century New York City had no rules governing who could own and operate a yellow cab. Then, they issued licenses to operate yellow cabs (the so-called medallion). The city issued something like 18,000 of these. It stayed that way until around 2002 when they auctioned off a few thousand more. In the end, if you want to operate a yellow cab in New York City you have to have a license and they’re very limited. So, not everyone gets a ticket to the big game.

  6. ipv4depletion says on :

    John Mann:
    I agree with you that DNS64/NAT64 is the way to go instead of IPv6 Only. I have not done the math with webproxies, but I bet you that it will be a truckload of proxies per 100,000 customers. I don’t think it will scale.

    iPad/Phone users are excluded from a large part of the Internet (no flash support). Still they sell iphones like crazy. I think the average consumer might be willing to accept a larger breakage than you think, maybe not 15% but perhaps 5%. And 95% IPv6 traffic is not that far away once Google, Facebook, Myspace, Ebay, Pornsites and CNN start moving.

  7. Warren says on :


    It well may be that the majority of the Internet traffic becomes ipv6 compatible in short order (< 3 years). However, that doesn't mean that there aren't hundreds of other websites you visit on a semi-regular basis that are compatible also. And while the amount of traffic you generate on those sites will be minimal compared to the big dogs like Google, Facebook etc, you still visit them none-the-less. Imagine an Internet where you can get to Google, Facebook and Cnn but not 523 other little websites you depend on.

  8. Warren says on :

    Something tells me that if you can’t get to those 523 websites because they are on V4 and you’re on V6, you’re going to want V4 compatibility.

  9. ipv4depletion says on :


    But what you want and what you get might differ.

  10. Warren says on :

    >>But what you want and what you get might differ.

    If there is a possibility to make a profit, then the businesses will sell you what you want. :-) On the other hand, you may be right in that it is not an option to get what you want.

  11. Ted King says on :

    [Re the post + comment #6] Three links of interest :
    “End Game” (PNG from the top)
    ” Google over IPv6″ (Google’s starting point for IPv6 access)
    Google search via IPv6

  12. Ted King says on :

    P.S. Two more :
    “IPv6″ (Wikipedia article)
    Facebook via IPv6 (from Wikipedia article)

  13. Wild thoughts » IPv4 is now officially full says on :

    [...] Research and prediction based on current IP resources and consumption by regional registrars pin the complete depletion of IPv4 adresses in Europe somewhere later this year, closely followed by ARIN (North America) somewhere next year. [...]

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