Start-up Blocks @ RIPE

August 17, 2023

From 2014 until 2019, it was very easy to get multiple blocks of 1,024 IPv4 addresses – a /22 – from the RIPE NCC. Each member could have multiple accounts, called LIRs, and get a /22 for each one.

This policy was intended to minimize the barrier to entry for new organizations. They could build  a small network with some IPv4 addresses. While new entrants had some protection, the market price for IPv4 addresses more than doubled. It was about $10/address in 2014 but over $20/address in 2019.

The impact was substantial. RIPE NCC LIR numbers more than doubled from 10,000 members to 25,000. About 20,000 /22s were distributed. And from 2013 the RIPE NCC had a low, flat fee per LIR. While the precise numbers vary each year, there has been a sign-up fee and the annual flat fee has been about €1,500-1,750.

This means that LIRs were paying about $7/address, which they could sell on the market for a considerable mark-up after holding for just two years.

The last /22 was distributed in November 2019.

Some believe that the RIPE NCC’s supply-side management impacted market pricing. Two years after the last /22 was allocated the price peaked at over $60/address. The RIPE NCC’s membership rolls are reducing, too. Membership numbers have dropped by about 2,000 members in the last two years.

New members still pay about the same amount but they get less for their money. They can be added to the IPv4 Waiting List to get 256 IPv4 addresses – a /24. There are over 1,000 LIRs in the queue and the first one on the list has been waiting for over 400 days.

This is a concern for the RIPE NCC’s Executive Board. In their consultation on the 2024 charging scheme they stated that “we expect many members with multiple LIR accounts who received resources in 2021 to merge these accounts in the coming year.” While they proposed a tiered model with fees ranging from €650 to €10,000 based on the resources under management, that is not what the members voted for.

In 2024, RIPE NCC members will pay €1,550 per LIR. New members will also pay the €1,000 sign-up fee.

We expect large numbers of /22s to come to market in the coming months.