[Community-Discuss] Notice to all the legacy netblocks holders in AfriNIC

Owen DeLong owen at delong.com
Mon Jan 11 18:13:43 UTC 2021

> There are many reasons to be "conservative" about the world's dwindling

> supply of IPv4 addresses. Like petrochemicals extracted from the earth,

> the stuff may flow freely and abundantly now, even to the point where

> we all feel free to squander what remains, but someday our profligate

> human nature will, I'm sure, come back to haunt us, and we will wake up

> with a hell of a hangover.

Like the transition from fossil fuels towards electricity as a primary means
of energy transfer and storage (and the related transition to renewable
sources of energy for production of electricity), there is an in-progress
transition from scarce and dysfunctional IPv4 to abundant and slightly
less dysfunctional IPv6. While some level of conservation is warranted
in both cases (In the case of fossil fuels more due to the damaging
nature of their use than due to the shortage of supply), the simple reality
is that limiting consumption is not necessarily conservation. It might just
be a form of rationing.

> Ardent proponents of IPv6 will no doubt disagree with this view, but I do

> believe that their views are still influenced more by hope than by current

> day-to-day reality on the ground. The proof of IPv4's ongoing importance

> is visible everwhere, for those that would but look for it. Speaking from

> my own direct experience, of which I have a great deal, 99 spammers out

> of 100 still to this day rely exclusively on IPv4 for the simple and

> obvious reason that this maximizes their connectivity to the places they

> wish to spam.

In fact, I receive far more than 1% (nearly 45%) of my SPAM over IPv6 these days.
I don’t know to what extent that represents which spammers (not something
I’ve really even tried to research), but I have to believe that it very likely
represents more than 1% of spammers. (though it is technically possible
that 45% of my SPAM comes from the very effective 1% of spammers
while the other 55% is distributed among 99% of far less effective spammers
still using IPv4 exclusively). In the latter case, it would certainly seem to
discredit the argument that IPv4-only is the most effective way to spam.

> And by the way, yes, I do believe that I slipped a digit when I was trying

> to calculate the total value of all of the IPv4 address space that was

> gifted to AFRINIC by the other RIRs at the time of its inception, and

> that a more accurate assesment of the total current open market value of

> these assets likely exceeds $2.5 billion USD. And rather humorously, the

> various RIRs, including but not limited to AFRINIC have somehow persuaded,

> and continue to persuade their respective financial auditors to simply

> close their eyes and look the other way whenever the subject of these most

> valuable assets comes up. You can see this for yourself in past AFRINIC

> auditor-generated financial statments, e.g. the one I looked at from 2015.

> Nowhere are these most valuable assets of AFRINIC or the other RIRs ever

> even considered to be assets... a most astonishing example of what would

> appear on the face of it to be gross professional malpractice on the part

> of the auditors, the size of which dwarfs even the national budgets of

> several entire non-trivial countries.

The address space was not gifted or even transferred. The authority of
registration is what was transferred. The RIR system operates by guaranteeing
uniqueness of registration by providing exclusivity through mechanisms which
intend to ensure that each address is tied to a specific RIR which has the
exclusive and sole authority and responsibility for maintaining the registration
data for that particular address.

The RIRs do not own address space and neither do the registrants. Address
space is merely integers. Claiming to own 5 is facially absurd as is claiming
ownership of any other integer.

What is traded when people talk about buying/selling IP addresses is not the
addresses themselves, but the right to update the registration database in the

The true beauty of the system is that the RIRs are not magical. They are not
legal authorities. Their authority is held in check by the fact that the value of
the registry system is limited by the willingness of ISPs to treat that data as
an authoritative set of rights to use the numbers for a particular purpose. Namely
uniquely addressing systems on a collectively administered set of interconnected
networks commonly referred to as “the Internet”.

If an ISP chooses to disregard the RIRs and start issuing random numbers
to their customers and announcing them to those willing to peer with them,
the only thing that stops that ISP is not a legal challenge, but the fact that
the set of networks willing to peer with them will shrink to meaningless and
the fact that the networks that remain willing to peer with them will at least
have those announcements ignored/blocked by the vast majority of their peers.

It is failure to understand these details of how the RIR system works and how
the separation of routing authority from the RIR system preserves bidirectoinal
accountability between the two which leads to unreasonable expectations and
overestimation of the authority present in the RIRs.


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