News given on ‘freeing up’ of unused IP addresses

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The Government Digital Service (GDS) has revealed that it has successfully sold a number of unused IPv4 network addresses belonging to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).

In February, the government started “discovery work” with the DWP to explore the possibilities of freeing up their IPv4 network addresses.

In a Government Technology blog post, Hadley Beeman – senior technical advisor to the government chief technology officer – said the department had two goals: to release IPv4A addresses for networks not yet ready to jump to IPv6, and to generate a profit to help lower the deficit and support public finances.

According to Beeman, the DWP already had a class A block of IPv4 addresses and GDS has now released 40 of the 256 class B blocks “without disruption to any key services”.

To reduce the impact on DWP’s services, alternative network structures were explored, such as Network Address Translation and IPv6, its future need for IPv4 addresses and how to “keep things stable” during the course of action.

Beeman said: “Protecting DWP’s networks and services in light of each of these factors carries a cost, so we wanted to see if we could bring in more proceeds than the exercise would cost us.

She added that addresses were treated as an asset and their price was developed from “market conditions, demand and asset size on the basis of advice from Ernst & Young and IPv4 Market Group.”

The team discovered that there was demand for the addresses and that market interest for the 40 class Bs actually managed to create a profit.

What’s in store for the future?

According to Beeman, there is potential for more opportunities similar to this and further sales will be looked into.

She said: “We’ve been happy to discover that we can do some good with IP addresses: both by releasing them for others to use, and by generating revenue to help fund public spending.

“We think there may be more opportunities like this, and will continue to investigate further sales of IP addresses.”


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