IP addresses for sale?

Michael Dillon michael at memra.com
Tue Jun 18 18:43:41 UTC 1996

On Tue, 18 Jun 1996, Kent W. England wrote:

> Let's just be very sure that if and when fees or prices for addresses are
> agreed, that someone doesn't step up and claim the right to auction
> addresses to cover the US budget deficit. 

It might be useful for people who are concerned about this, to write down
some scenarios that could develop if IP addresses were ever to become a
marketable commodity. By doing this you may discover that although there
is a worst-case scenario that is horrific, there is also a plausible
scenario that is not really so bad.

Some important factors to take into account when writing a scenario are
the following:

   1. IP addresses are not scarce. Someone recently posted some figures
      and I remember that only about 15% of the IPv4 space has been

   2. IP addresses will not be scarce in the future. This is because IPv6
      has a much larger address space and if IPv4 addresses seemed to be
      becoming scarce then that would be an impetus to deploy IPv6 faster.

   3. RFC1918 private network addresses do exist along with a large
      variety of tools to allow most people to get the Internet access
      they need by sharing a proxy server that reuires but a single 
      IP host address. 

   4. Many people get their Internet access via dialup to a provider who
      allocates them a dynamic address for the duration of their session.
      Thus, the total number of addresses needed is not clearly related
      to the number of hosts that require a connection.

   5. Services that appear to require a static host address that is
      globally routable (talk and similar tools) may not actually need
      this. Already there is at least one example of a system whereby you
      register at a central server that is on the net. Whenever your site
      is available, it's IP address is given to this server and when
      someone wants to call you, they do it via this server. 

I think that all of the above would tend to depress the market value of IP
addresses, probably to the point where it is simply not worth paying for
them. Even if it were to be worth paying for them, I can't see a very high
market value being possible.

And if by some chance, the market value of IP addresses grew so high as to
be an impediment to the growth of the Internet, there are technologies
avaliable to the core providers (IPv6, IPv8, or something similar) that
they could use to release customers from the IP address sharks.
Michael Dillon                                   ISP & Internet Consulting
Memra Software Inc.                                 Fax: +1-604-546-3049
http://www.memra.com                             E-mail: michael at memra.com

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