Expansion of the Internet slowed in 2014 as the number of available IPv4 addresses neared exhaustion, according to a report by the Asia Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC), the regional Internet registry for the Asia Pacific.
“In the IPv4 network it’s clear that address exhaustion in most parts of the world has acted as a very major constraint on the continued expansion of the network,” APNIC chief scientist Geoff Huston wrote in a blog post about the report.
"The network is still growing, but its no longer doubling in size each year. The current growth rate is around some 8% to 9% per year."
The report provides more detail on reasons for the slowdown.
"The correlation between network deployments and routing advertisements has been disrupted by the hiatus in supply of IPv4 addresses, causing more recent deployments to make extensive use of various forms of address sharing technologies," states the report, which is available on the APNIC website
IPv6 provides about 340 undecillion IP addresses, compared to the 4 billion addresses supported by IPv4. As the number of Internet-connected devices has grown, exhaustion of IPv4 addresses has necessitated the adoption of IPv6.
"The IPv6 network is still much smaller than the IPv4 network," said Huston.
"Much has been done to convert the core of the network to support IPv6, but at the access networks at the edge there is still much to be done. The IPv6 network is one twentieth of the size of the IPv4 network, but its growth rate is more than double that of IPv4, at some 20% per year."
Progress remains slow in the movement to IPv6, the APNIC report said.
“While a small number of providers have made significant progress in public IPv6 deployments for their respective customer base, the overall majority of the Internet is still exclusively using IPv4,” the report said.
“This is despite the fact that among that small set of networks that have deployed IPv6 are some of the largest ISPs in the Internet!”