On 20 May 2014, LACNIC became the first of the five Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) to reach their last /9 of remaining IPv4 address space. This triggered a global policy for IANA to make equal allocations from its recovered IPv4 pool to each of the five RIRs. On this same day, each RIR received the equivalent of a /11 allocation from IANA (2,097,152 million IP addresses).
The “Global Policy for Post Exhaustion IPv4 Allocation Mechanisms” was ratified in 2012 by the five regional communities served by the RIRs, after the final /8 blocks were distributed in 2011. The policy created a special pool of addresses that were left over or returned to IANA. It stated that IANA would begin making equal periodic allocations from this pool when the first RIR reached less than a total of a /9 in its inventory.
The latest announcement from LACNIC indicates that it is not far from IPv4 exhaustion. This leaves AFRINIC as the only RIR with a significant pool of remaining IPv4 addresses. After exhaustion, the RIRs will continue to distribute IPv4 space to their communities, with some RIRs issuing at a greatly reduced rate according to varying run out policies established by their communities.
While the RIRs now have some additional IPv4 addresses, this will likely be one of the last significant allocations they receive from IANA. This fact underscores more than ever the need for network operators to move towards full deployment of the IPv6 protocol, which has more than enough addresses to allow for the continued growth of the Internet.
More information about IPv4 depletion and IPv6 adoption can be found here.