Data Quality & IPv4 Crumbs
by Leo Vegoda
Jewelers are eager to buy up old jewelry and recycle the metals and gems into something new. Gold and silver are too precious to send to landfill. APNIC is doing something similar with IPv4 addresses.
But while some organizations will get low cost IPv4 addresses, everyone benefits from better quality data about who has IP addresses and how to contact them.
In February 2021, APNIC’s board resolved that anyone whose APNIC-registered IPv4 addresses pre-date APNIC would need to become a member. They gave this small group until the start of 2023 to sign-up. Those who didn’t could lose their addresses.
APNIC contacted the registrants and users of the addresses, explaining the situation.
There wasn’t much pre-APNIC address space in this situation: about 4,000 blocks. Almost 80% were /24s (256 addresses) but there were 85 /16s, previously known as Class Bs (65,536 addresses). It added up to just over 7 million addresses.
APNIC’s work achieved two goals.
Registrants updated their organizational details and contact information for addresses they use. Networks use this contact data when they need to debug and resolve connectivity problems. APNIC reclaimed and will reallocate some addresses that aren’t needed, or that were allocated to organizations that don’t exist now.
So far, the process has delivered on both fronts. Over 400 organizations, with 2 million addresses, updated their records. APNIC also removed 1,009 registrations: almost 750,000 addresses.
The project is not over. APNIC is still working on the status of over 2 million addresses that aren’t routed and more than 1.5 million that are.
Some of those addresses could come back to APNIC while others will stay with their current users. Any addresses that stay with their current users will have had their registrations checked. The contact information published in APNIC’s whois database will be more reliable than at the start of the process.
Potential Market Impact
The five RIRs registered transfers of about 90 million IPv4 addresses in 2022. That is more than five of the top-level /8 blocks. While 3.5 million more addresses could come back to APNIC for reallocation, that’s a tiny fraction of demand.
The demand comes from two places.
The RIR communities developed policies to ensure that they can provide small blocks of IPv4 space to new market entrants. That’s why they make very small allocations and run waiting lists.
APNIC will allocate new members up to a /23 (512 addresses). The APNIC community is discussing a proposal to halve this and will decide at APNIC 56, in September 2023.
But new entrants are a small part of the market. The market is the other part of the policy formula.
As long as some networks need IPv4 space, the largest networks will need it. And because they will need it they will need a lot. These organizations work with sellers and often support them with renumbering and associated work.
Data Quality Impact
The five RIRs worked with ICANN on an Identifier Technical Health Indicators (ITHI) project. The project focused on measuring the quality of a wide range of services. The RIR registries were a part of this, alongside the way the domain name system works.
The RIRs developed a set of three metrics and set a target of 100% for each:
- Comprehensive – data is complete and unique (no duplicates)
- Correct – data matches official sources and works
- Current – data is recently updated or confirmed as correct
Perfection is a tough target. And it’s not possible in a world where things change. But activities like APNIC’s review of historical resources help sustain a high level of data quality.
Another APNIC process serving this purpose is the six-monthly check of abuse contacts. APNIC tests that the contact is accurate and contactable. Members have a very generous 15 days to respond. Most experts expect abuse reports to be acted on within minutes or hours: not weeks.
RIRs can only allocate small blocks of IPv4 addresses and the waiting time is often over a year.
The only predictable way to get IPv4 space is in the market. The market relies on high quality registry data about the organizations with IP addresses. Work like APNIC’s review of historical resources helps push towards the 100% targets defined in the RIRs’ ITHI metrics.