Well, that was fast. The Asia Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC) has just released the last block of Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) addresses in its available pool. We knew this was coming when the Internet Corporation For Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) announced in February that the last of the world’s remaining IPv4 blocks had been assigned to the Regional Internet Registries (RIR). What we didn’t know was that APNIC would run out quickly. I, and most other people, thought that its supply of IPv4 addresses would last until at least early summer. We were wrong.

In a statement, ASPNIC announced that, “This event is a key turning point in IPv4 exhaustion for the Asia Pacific, as the remaining IPv4 space will be ‘rationed’ to network operators to be used as essential connectivity with next-generation IPv6 addresses (PDF Link). All new and existing APNIC Members who meet the current allocation criteria will be entitled to a maximum delegation of a /22 (1,024 addresses) of IPv4 space. ”

So what happened? APNIC Director General Paul Wilson explained the Asia Pacific region is the first to reach the point of being unable to meet IPv4 demand. This is due to the unprecedented fixed and mobile network growth the region is experiencing. “Considering the ongoing demand for IP addresses, this date effectively represents IPv4 exhaustion for many of the current operators in the Asia Pacific region,” Wilson said. “From this day onwards, IPv6 is mandatory for building new Internet networks and services.”

Now the question is who’s going to go next. RIPE, which handles Europe, the Middle East and the former Soviet Union countries? The American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN)? I’d thought at one time, ARIN, at least, would hang on to 2012, but now I’m not so sure any of RIRs will make it to the end of 2011 with unused IPv4 addresses.

IPv4 exhaustion has been identified as a key turning point for a long time, and it should come as no surprise. Any organization that wishes to remain viable must push forward with their IPv6 deployment.