In 2011, IP addresses were officially recognized as a form of property, when a U.S. Bankruptcy Court approved the first ever paid transfer of IPv4 numbers between Microsoft and Nortel. That approval allowed the sale of 666,624 IPv4 numbers for USD $7.5M, putting a $11.25 price tag on a single IP number. Since then, IPv4 addresses have been transformed from a free resource into a high-priced asset. This fundamental shift still plays a vital role in satisfying the demand for IPv4 addresses today.

It has been over a decade since the creation of the transfer market that prolonged the usable life of IPv4, and allowed for a redistribution of IP addresses between organizations with surplus IP numbers and companies in need of address space. Availability of IPv4 numbers continues to decrease, and this year Addex has witnessed favorable conditions for all current holders of surplus numbers. The latest transactions through the Addrex Marketplace reflect a USD $40 per IP price, bringing the total value of a /16 block (containing 65,536 IPv4 numbers) to approximately USD $2.6M.

Since the beginning of this year, there have been over 4,344 transactions recorded (excluding M&A transfers). Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) have also reported approximately 2,817 transactions due to corporate changes or business restructuring.

If we break down 2021 resource transfers so far by CIDR size, RIRs have reported approximately 120 x /16 (Class B) transfers. Smaller blocks such as /22, /23 & /24s, containing 1,024, 512 & 256 IP numbers respectively, change hands far more frequently. The largest block transferred in 2021 to date was an ARIN region /10 containing 4,194,304 IPv4 numbers, acquired by Google LLC.

Since depletion of the RIRs’ available pool of IPv4 numbers, the transfer market continues to be the primary source of supply for organizations to satisfy their demand for address space. The market is still dominated by cloud infrastructure providers, Internet hosting companies, data center and mobile network operators, and e-commerce companies. The RIPE region tends to have a high volume of small block transfers, which results in a higher overall number of total transactions, while organizations in the ARIN region more often acquire larger blocks.

There has also been a growing trend for organizations to sell a portion of their resources first. Addrex is experienced with such partial transactions, and can accommodate those or other specific needs on the part of sellers, including delayed delivery agreements. Addrex has helped companies navigate the latest Regional Internet Registries transfer policies for over a decade and has successfully facilitated the transfer of over 32 million numbers between buyers and sellers. Any organization interested in selling excess IPv4 numbers or acquiring additional address space is welcome to contact our team at [email protected].

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