IP Addresses are the foundation of the Internet. IPv4, the version used by the majority of devices on the Internet today, was defined in the late 1970s and allowed for a global network of more than four billion unique devices. Design principles stated that with TCP/IP, end to end connectivity could be established between any device on the network.
By the mid 1990s, over half of the four billion available addresses had been assigned to telecommunications providers, research and educational institutions, governments, health care providers, and commercial organizations. The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), sensing impending exhaustion, ratified the replacement for IPv4, a new system called IPv6. This new system provides for an entirely new set of numbers and a network with the potential for 2^128 unique devices. IPv4 utilization however carried on, and in April of 2011 APNIC, the Regional Internet Registry servicing the Asia Pacific, exhausted the majority of its IPv4 space and entered a technical lock-down period, preventing any organization from requesting more than 1,024 new addresses for their network – full stop.
With IPv4 technically exhausted, and IPv6 years away from prime time, the amount of IPv4 address space allocated to New Zealand organizations, approximately 8,450,000 addresses, is now static. Telecommunications providers are now limited in the amount of new customers they can acquire without changing their users’ networks or employing translation techniques that break end to end communications.
The analysis below is based on bulk data access to APNIC’s WHOIS register in August 2011. Data was parsed for blocks of IP addresses assigned to New Zealand organizations using grep and regular expressions. Parsed data was entered into Google Refine and hand cleaned, matching organization names to address blocks, aggregating address blocks based on carrier mergers and acquisitions, and tagging blocks based on organization type.
The first chart shows the proportion of addresses assigned to various types of organizations in New Zealand, and demonstrates that the majority of address space has been assigned to telecommunications providers.
The second chart shows the proportion of addresses assigned to all Telecommunications providers in New Zealand with allocations of greater than 256 addresses. Of note, the smallest 66 providers combined have approximately 1/20th of the amount of address space held by Telecom New Zealand. In the callout describing the last block, organizations are listed from largest to smallest in terms of allocations.
<img src="https://nztelco.files.wordpress.com/2015/08/ipv4spacecomparison1.png" alt="Chart of IPv4 Allocations to NZ Telecommunications Providers" title="IPv4SpaceComparison" width="550" height="853" class="aligncenter size-large wp-imag
Although the first IPv6 test network launched 15 years ago, and New Zealand’s IPv6 Task Force has been encouraging adoption since 2009, implementation has been slow. On the provider side, routers, firewalls, and Operational Support Systems all need upgrading – a massive undertaking. On the customer side, routers and firewalls will have to be replaced, and many computers updated or reconfigured. To date, no major ISP in New Zealand advertises a commercial IPv6 service, although some smaller providers will provide IPv6 on request. No providers at all require their customers to have IPv6 enabled equipment.
While these charts in no way demonstrate the amount of addresses in use or actual size of the providers in terms of subscriber numbers or network capacity, they do demonstrate the upper boundary for market share of unique devices on the Internet in a pre-IPv6 environment, and likely define those bounds through 2015.