If you are a tech geek, you likely know that IPv4 addresses are getting in shorter and shorter supply as the internet has grown. IPv4 addresses are limited to about 4 billion in quantity. Nearly every new electronics device (and lots of "non-electronic" devices) requires an IP address and these devices now range from toasters to TVs to thermostats in your house. It seems that MIT has been sitting on just a few of these IPv4 addresses since the birth of the internet. OK, by a "few," I mean 14 million unused IPv4 addresses.
MIT is now looking to unload some of these addresses at a profit in order to fund its own IPv6 network upgrades. It is being reported that Amazon is snatching up many of these addresses.
While IPv4 is still the workhorse of Internet addressing, IPv6 is coming. All major operating systems and devices already support both IPv4 and IPv6. Many of the large Internet Service Providers are supporting IPv6, and major content providers are moving to support IPv6, and so it is time to upgrade the MIT network for the future and make our network IPv6-capable.
MIT’s excess IPv4 capacity As we plan our migration to IPv6, it is appropriate for MIT to consider its own stock of IPv4 addresses. While the Internet is running out of addresses overall, MIT actually has a large surplus. MIT helped lead the development of the Internet from the 1970’s onward, and David Clark, a Senior Research Scientist at our Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) quickly saw the importance of these addresses and requested an early allocation of them, both to support research and eventually to support all of computing at MIT. We hold a block of 16 million IPv4 addresses.
Fourteen million of these IPv4 addresses have not been used, and we have concluded that at least eight million are excess and can be sold without impacting our current or future needs, up to the point when IPv6 becomes universal and address scarcity is no longer an issue. The Institute holds a block of 20 times 10^30 (20 nonillion) IPv6 addresses.
So if MIT has 14 million unused IPv4 addresses sitting around for 40 years, how many others are out there hoarding these...just in case? The good news is that IPv6 is now being adopted at a much higher rate than ever before. Hell, even HardOCP has IPv6 addresses now.