Geoff Huston speaks at OECD ministerial meeting

On Monday, 16 June 2008, APNIC's chief scientist, Geoff Huston, spoke at the OECD ministerial meeting about the exhaustion of the free pool of IPv4 addresses.

This is predicted to occur in January 2011, give or take a few months. When it does happen, it will be impossible for any new Internet address space to be allocated under the existing technology of IPv4.

The Internet has seen remarkable growth over the past ten years. "If you could think of one word to characterize what's happened to the Internet in the past ten years, it would be growth, and massive amounts of it. This is not normal growth.... This is growth on steroids." Geoff commented.

The solution to the inevitabilty of IPv4 free pool exhaustion has been known for nearly twenty years IPv4's successor technology, IPv6. However, the uptake of IPv6 has been much slower than desirable.

Geoff expounded on the urgency of transitioning to IPv6 technology, as the slow uptake, if not rectified, would critically hamper the expansion of Internet connectivity into new areas:

...the problem is all these plans for growth the plan for rolling out the next 40% of households covered, the great new WiMAX plans, the 'Universe of Things'...unfortunately, on a network, they all need addresses, and we can't give them addresses. We're going to run out. Not maybe will.

Furthermore, he questioned the seriousness of industry's commitment to the transition:

What has industry done to respond to this? Have you deployed v6? No. How much v6 is out there? Less than one part in 1000. Do I see any real plans other than slideware? Not really.

The entire network will need to run these two languages, IPv4 and IPv6, simultaneously for about the next five to ten years.

Geoff warned that to try to force the adoption of IPv6 via regulatory fiat would be the worst solution for a system that has thrived over the past ten years as a result of its unstructured and decentralized nature.

Instead, he suggested trusting the established institutions and frameworks that have driven the development of the Internet to solve this not particularly insurmountable problem.

He said we need to position goverments, regulators, industry, and consumers into mutually-supportive frameworks. "Quite frankly, what I want from this is courage courage to understand that although the decision to deregulate was difficult... it was the right one."

Geoff implored the audience to acknowledge that the framework that has been created is perfectly capable of coordinating the changes that need to occur without the direct involvement of external regulators.

Geoff's involvement was widely recognized in the media, with many news outlets reporting on his timely message: