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[AfriNIC-rpd] Proposal: Out of region sales of IPv4 space

David Conrad drc at
Sat Feb 12 19:51:16 UTC 2011

On Feb 12, 2011, at 1:48 AM, McTim wrote:
> Sometimes folk have good reasons to use addresses in Region B and C, even though they were obtained in region A.  If a compnay has a global network for example, is it fair to make them become 5 different LIRs, one in each region?  It also helps in aggregation to have fewer blocks allocated to large networks.
> What drc has pointed out is that it is non-trivial to determine where resources are used.

It's actually a bit worse that that.  According to, the 3 large RIRs are going to be completely out of space by Jan 2013 whereas LACNIC and AfriNIC are projected to have space for at least a year, maybe two longer.  This sort of inequality breeds misbehavior.

Thought experiment:  Big AsianISP opens up a branch office in (say) Nairobi or Johannesburg or wherever and obtains a large block of space from AfriNIC.  Might even get a few local customers. Then Jul 2011 rolls around and Big AsianISP is unable to obtain new address space from APNIC.  

As CEO of Big AsianISP, what will you do?  (a) turn away customers, perhaps telling them to come back if/when they'll accept IPv6-only (b) make use of whatever IPv4 address resources they have?

For the sake of argument, assume they go with (b) and start assigning/announcing 90% of the block they got from AfriNIC out of (say) Hong Kong. What will AfriNIC do? Sue Big AsianISP? Revoke the address space and hand it out to someone else?  If the former, Big AsianISP (for pretty much any value of Big) has many more lawyers than AfriNIC and way more money.  At worst, I'm guessing they can drag out any judicial action for years.  If the latter, what would happen if Big AsianISP refuses to stop announcing the address space or even threatens to sue anyone who receives the space formerly registered to Big AsianISP?  Sure, Big AsianISP might lose, but how long would it take, how much would it cost, how much would they make while the case wends its way through the legal system?  Another option would be that AfriNIC would refuse to ever allocate address space to Big AsianISP again?  How much would it cost Big AsianISP to set up a shell and do the exact same thing?  How many resources will AfriNIC have to spend verifying a new ISP isn't just a shell?

Also, remember that at best, ISPs check the registration status of blocks when they are first presented to the ISP for routing and peers very rarely check the registration status of announcements they receive from their peers.  From personal experience (long ago, APNIC was unable to get an ISP to stop announcing a block that had been revoked until the customer to whom that block was allocated told the ISP it was OK), I know that many ISPs simply do not care that a block of addresses has been revoked by an RIR: ISP-customer and ISP-ISP contracts will generally outweigh RIR-ISP contracts.

There are a myriad variations on these themes.  The point being that cooperation is the first thing thrown out the window when folks are desperate.  Hopefully folks won't get that desperate and these sorts of scenarios won't occur.  I just hope folks are realistic about the powers of the RIRs in the face of business necessities.


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