back to article Virtual Africa is the logical target for IP address colonists

Regrettable incidents like Microsoft's address reassignment are a reminder that IPv4 address exhaustion is becoming so acute it's impacting real operations. In Microsoft's case, as El Reg reported last week, Redmond occasionally cashes in the jar full of unloved IP addresses it brought back from abroad to find some it can use …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not surprised

    I worked for a large African company in the late 90s, They got themselves a Class A address range, and were using the addresses for all client machines inside their firewalls.

    1. Chris Miller

      Re: Not surprised

      Some of the 'big' companies who own class As do the same - in the very early days of IP, the assumption was that every system would be publicly addressable. It's not normal today, of course, but once in place the cost of changing is significant, while the cost of owning a class A (once you've got one) is almost zero.

    2. TheVogon Silver badge

      Re: Not surprised

      I will gladly pay $30 Billion Ugandan Dollars for them. All I require are their bank account details...

      1. jj_k

        Re: Not surprised

        It's Shillings, you idiot!

        And if you had to part with UGX30,000,000,000, that would cost you US$11,659,800. Let's see how glad you are to pay that!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Devil

    Regretable? Come on, isn't this just imperialism

    This may be an IT site, but technology affects the social sphere, and surely this issue merits a little more philosophical analysis. This issue can be construed as mere colonialism, taking resources from one country to feed another. The allocation of IPv4 was unbalanced in favour of developed countries at the start, and it's hardly South and Central America's fault that the developed world has rejected IPv6. Could one option not be to build out infrastructure in those countries rather than nicking their resources, and offer a more equitable short term solution through that approach?

    1. James 100

      Re: Regretable? Come on, isn't this just imperialism

      The whole reason for all those IP addresses being spare in Africa and South America is a combination of (a) a more equitable distribution of address space than demand would justify, and (b) a lack of demand for such infrastructure in those places. Putting infrastructure there, where it isn't needed, instead of in places where it is actually needed, would be absurd. If you were right that IPv4 allocation was somehow biased *against* these places, why are they the ones left with so much more than they need when others are running out?!

      I have rather less sympathy for MS here when they still haven't enabled IPv6 on Azure, though. Comcast - the biggest cable ISP on earth IIRC - has finally enabled it for their customers, a few of the more forward-looking hosting companies are even offering IPv6-only hosting now (at a slightly lower price than dual stack, since it avoids consuming scarce IPv4 space).

      I don't think you can say IPv6 is "rejected" - it's just there's still a lot of foot-dragging and excuse-making. I know some of the dimmer ISPs are trying to push CGNAT now, but I expect and hope that won't get them very far: they will need to bite the bullet and join their brighter rivals in offering dual-stack services sooner or later.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Regretable? Come on, isn't this just imperialism

        Actually, as an Internet operator in Africa I can assure you that a big part of why so much address space remains available is because AfriNIC are extremely cautious about releasing new addresses to those who ask. They are only providing address space to those who make the most compelling and desperate requests.

    2. jj_k

      Re: Regretable? Come on, isn't this just imperialism

      It is techno-colonialism.

  3. cyclical

    There's currently investment approaching billions of $ to get africa fibred up - although it's mostly on the coasts right now - while inland areas still rely heavily on mobile, microwave and satellite internet (which of course can be NAT'ed). I can certainly forsee IP requirements shooting up shortly though.

  4. Preston Munchensonton
    Alien

    Not the last great untapped IPv4 pool

    The IETF and IANA could open the 15 Class A ranges present in 240.0.0.0/4 if they wanted, but have 20 years of planning for IPv6 that prevents them from doing so. It would be trivial to update a system's IP stack to support such a move, though it would require a lot of systems to update. Personally, I think that move is simpler than the idiocy that IPv6 requires.

    Obviously, has to be aliens...

  5. Nate Amsden Silver badge

    they already are

    A couple of weeks ago people at my org asked me to block large swaths of Africa due to abusers on the web site. One of those ranges was 154.0.0.0/8 (well that is what it came down to there were so many 154.x subnets that these people were coming from). Our business does not serve anyone in Africa and the developers were going to fix the bugs that the people on those IPs were exploiting in a few days anyway. So I asked our CDN to block that range (amongst others).

    --

    org: ORG-CIc1-AFRINIC

    status: ALLOCATED PA

    mnt-by: AFRINIC-HM-MNT

    mnt-lower: CoolIdeas-mnt

    mnt-domains: CoolIdeas-mnt

    source: AFRINIC # Filtered

    parent: 154.0.0.0 - 154.255.255.255

    --

    Not long after some ISP in Canada started reporting issues of users not being able to hit our site, and they were in the 154.x range too (I didn't get a specific IP).

    I asked the CDN to unblock the 154.x range a couple of days later(kept the other more restrictive blocks). But found it sort of interesting that those IPs ended up in Canada. In the grand scheme of things it was better to keep them blocked(until the issue was fixed) then continue to let those folks exploit that issue. Everyone at my org understood that blocking IPs was not a sustainable defense since there are infinite proxies and clouds etc.

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