Petition Asks UK Government To Sell £600m Wasted IPv4 Addresses
DWP’s hoard of Internet addresses could help clear the deficit
The UK Department for Work And Pensions (DWP) is sitting on a hoard of 16 million unused Internet IPv4 addresses, which could be worth as much as £600 million because they are in short supply, a petition says.
IPv4 addresses, which have been in use since the beginning of the Internet, are running out, and the move to the new address scheme IPv6 has scarcely begun. So on Friday, when Europe’s regional Internet registrar RIPE NCC announced it had opened up its last block of IPv4 addresses, it said future allocations of IPv4 would be strictly limited.
It has been revealed, however, that the Department for Work and Pensions has a block of 16.8 million IP addresses – known as a /8 – which it is not using on any public networks. A petition is demanding that the DWP sell these to alleviate the shortage of IPv4 addresses while reducing the Government deficit at the same time.
IPv4 addresses on internal nets? Madness!
The move to IPv6 has been very slow, as networks need to be upgraded, so IPv6 traffic remains small, and firms use many workarounds to extend the life of the existing Internet structure.
The DWP’s block of Internet addresses, spotted by blogger John Graham-Cumming, is the 126.96.36.199 /8, with every single address beginning with 51.
The value of IPv4 addresses is not precise, but bankrupt network company Nortel sold 0.66 million addresses to Microsoft in March 2011 for £4.7 million ($7 million). At that price, the DWP stash would be worth £100 million, but prices have certainly gone up with the increasing scarcity of IPv4 addresses.
There are reports (in the Network World) that a US publicly traded company is trying to sell a /8 through a broker called Addrex, which has said it hopes to rake in anything from $500 million to $1.5 billion. A value of $1 billion would make the DWP’s hoard worth £600 million.
The block was issued to the DWP a long time ago and was originally intended for “internal use”, which would be “madness” according to the petition’s author Jo Shields. Internal networks do not require a unique set of IP addresses, and the Internet standard RFC 1918 sets aside three blocks (10.0.0.0, 172.16.0.0 and 192.168.0.0) to be used and re-used on any internal networks.
Using globally unique IP addresses on internal networks would be “a phenomenal waste of public funds ” said Shields. “£1 billion of low-effort extra cash would be a very nice thing to throw at our deficit,” she added.
Update: TechWeekEurope has received a comment from the DWP which flatly contradicts the assertions of the petition, claiming the addresses are being used, and that it is not possible to sell them. ”We have used or allocated the vast majority of these IP addresses within the DWP and across government,” the spokesman said. “There is no legitimate way for organisations with public IP address allocations to sell or trade those allocations on the open market.”
However, the petitioners have already pointed out that the Internet’s ASN database shows the addresses are not in use – and Nortel has already sold public IP addresses on the open market. TechWeekEurope has asked for further clarification
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