Believe it or not, the internet protocol is on sale!

10 Nov 2020 11:20h - 12:20h

Event report

The session moderated by Mr Eduardo Barasal Morales (Coordinator, and Ms Andrea Erina Komo (Analyst,, addressed how the Internet protocol version 4 (IPv4) market affects digital inclusion, and what the future of Internet infrastructure should be. As IPv6 will soon replace IPv4, it is difficult to predict when it will happen and how the Internet will operate by that date. This session thus explored the impact caused by the implementation of the IPv4 market on how stakeholders operate, but also on the future of the network.

Participants first reflected on the effects of the IPv4 market on IPv6 adoption. Mr Marco Hogewoning (Public Policy and Internet Governance Manager, RIPE NCC) argued that there is a connection between the IPv4 market and IPv6 adoption. The IPv4 market will help the adoption of IPv6 on the Internet by providing companies to plan their migration. Mr Antonio Marcos Moreiras (Manager, explained that IPv6 adoption remains very low by governments and private companies, partly because the IPv4 market jeopardises IPv6 adoption. Similarly, Mr Rajesh Chharia (President, Internet Service Providers Association India) explained that in a way, the IPv4 market helps start-ups start the network. But at the same time, if the market is there it will not encourage them to adopt IPv6 from the start. Mr Lee Howard (Director of Network Technology, Time Warner Cable) argued that IPv4 and IPv6 are in exact correlation with the growth rate of the Internet. As organisations bring new users and devices online, they have to adopt IPv4 or IPv6, or both.

The discussion then tackled the IPv4 market’s impact on IPv4 address distribution, as well as its impact on digital inclusion. Moreiras argued that the IPv4 market will worsen the situation by allowing institutions that have greater financial support buy more addresses. Chharia stated 14.6 million IPv4 addresses have come into the market. Only large companies can meaningfully participate in these tender processes. Still, Howard explained that it is possible to run a network on IPv6 only, as several mobile companies do. Facebook networks also run on IPv6 only and keep IPv4 translation on the edge, showing that it is possible for a data company to fully adopt IPv6. Moreiras mentioned that the IPv4 market could reduce digital inclusion because the price per IPv4 address will rise the Internet plan price offered to end consumers. Chharia stated that these issues should be addressed from developing countries’ perspective as well. The situation in India, in which Internet penetration remains low, shows that when large Internet service providers do not have incentive to expand broadband penetration, small Internet service providers need to pay higher prices in the IPv4 market. The IPv4 market thus curtails digital inclusion, because it increases the cost of networks.