We are running out of IPV4 addresses— it’s official!
The European and North American Internet registries are officially out of free available IP version 4 (IPv4s). Other regions, including Africa, Asia, and Latin America, are also behind. It will take a few years, but the day will come when regional authorities are out of IPv4 addresses.
So what are our options?
Even though we can see IPv6s on the horizon, it will still take a long time for the protocol to be fully autonomous and operational. And although it seems like trying to buy recovered IPv4 address space from the authorities is a possibility, the process is very challenging, time-consuming, and expensive.
In this guide, we’ll go through everything you need to know about renting an IP. We’ll provide answers to the typical questions; What are the advantages of renting over buying? What’s the process for renting an IP? What should you expect and receive?
Table of Contents.
- How are IP addresses allocated?
- Buying or Leasing an IP address?
- How to Get a New IP Address?
- What to Look For on An IP Renting Service?
- The Benefits of Renting IPs.
1. How are IP Addresses Allocated?
First things first— Let’s clear up the IP-allocation-lingo.
If you want to get your hands on an IP, you’ll first need to know how IP addresses are allocated? And who’s involved?
After all, there has to be an authority that controls and manages the usage of IPs. If not, we would have exhausted IPs a long time ago. Both, IPv4 and IPv6 addresses are assigned hierarchically.
The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) at the top of the hierarchy, assigns identification numbers to the lower Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) authorities, which manage the Internet resources in particular regions in the world.
The Five RIRs are:
- APNIC: Asia-Pacific Network Information Centre
- AFRINIC: African Network Information Center
- ARIN: American Registry for Internet Numbers
- LACNIC: Latin American and Caribbean Network Information Centre
- RIPE NCC: Réseaux IP Européens Network Coordination Centre
Two of the most significant RIRs are RIPE NCC that deal with all European IP addresses and ARIN that deal with United States IP addresses (North America, including the US, Canada, and some Caribbean islands). Some countries also have their own NIR (National Internet Registry) to handle Internet resources at the national level.
RIRs (or NIRs) in turn, allocate addresses to the LIRs (Local Internet Registries) and ISPs, which ultimately assign (rent or sell) IPs to the End Users (EUs).
2. Buying or Leasing an IP Address?
In a nutshell, buying vs. leasing is all up to your requirements and resources. Do you want to build equity? Have more control? Or have more flexibility and mobility at a lower cost.
Both renting and buying have their advantages, but they also have their disadvantages.
2.1 Buy IP address Space?
Members from RIPE NCC and ARIN can still obtain “recovered IPv4 address space,” but it is not a pretty process. To get your hands on a /24 block, you’ll have to become a Local Internet Registry (LIR) member, be eligible to request (which is very hard), sign up to a waiting list, and wait to be approved— not a practical solution. Other RIRs with free available IPs have intensive due diligence on when, who gets them, and how many IP addresses they give out.
What are your options?
You can still buy IPv4s from third-party companies (LIRs) that own the IPs or brokers— companies that are continuously searching for IP address blocks that have been allocated by an RIR (or LIR) but are not being used. Brokers bring these blocks to the marketplace and mediate between seller and buyer.
The major downside when you buy IP address blocks is cost. The initial pay is high, and the prices grow over time. But an advantage when you purchase IP addresses is that you’ll have more control over them. You won’t have to go through a third-party anytime you are thinking about rerouting traffic.
- When you buy IP space, you’ll likely go through a cumbersome, expensive, and slow process.
- Buying an IP addresses equals total control of your address.
2.2 Lease IP address Space?
When you are leasing an IP address, you are skipping throughout the entire slow and complicated process. Additionally, you won’t need to pay an initial hefty sum and opt-out anytime you want without significant losses.
If you are building a new ISP, probably your best option is to buy IP address blocks, lots of them. But if you are looking for a few hundred (or thousands) of IPv4s for a couple of months or years, the best strategy is to rent them from an LIR provider.
- Renting is easy and fast. The process is very straightforward, and you won’t pay a hefty initial sum.
- When you lease IP address, you have less control. You’ll need a Letter of Authorization (LoA) or permit so that you can advertise your new IPs.
3. How to Get a New IP Address?
So, whether you buy IP address space or rent it, in the end, it is up to your resources and requirements. How long are you going to be using the new address block? For a few days? Months? Years? What about your path to IPv6 migration? If you plan to migrate the legacy IPv4 equipment into IPv6, you probably will need IPv4 for a shorter period.
In this section, we’ll describe the process of how to lease an IP address?
- Define your needs.
- What should you receive?
3.1 Define Your Requirements.
Some of the most popular IP rentals use cases are: Hosting a website, email server, DNS server, FTP server, VPN, proxy, wireless, data centers (colocated or cloud), web scraping, marketing, ISPs, or an application’s traffic like High-Frequency Trading (HTF), etc.
Consider how many addresses you would need, and for how long? With a proper network design and forecast, you should be able to determine the number of IP addresses. For example, an experimental application would probably need a couple of IPv4s /24(256), but a hosting service, proxy, VPN, ISP, etc., would probably need more than that.
Consider whether IPv4 or IPv6. IPv4 vs. IPv6? It depends on your migration plan. If you want to migrate your existing infrastructure to IPv6, you’ll have to lease IPv4s. Or maybe you are already backed up with an infrastructure supporting IPv6; then you are ready to go full IPv6. The following chart will give you an idea of the number of IPs you’ll get with the CIDR.
|IPv4 CIDR Netmask||No. of IPs|
|IPv6 CIDR Netmask||No. of IPs|
3.2 What Should you Receive When Leasing an IP?
Third-party companies which are already LIR members are great places to rent IPv4s. LIRs should have a variety of IP address blocks to offer you, either an IPv4 or IPv6, and additional services to make the process much easier and faster.
Once you place an order, you should receive the dedicated bulk of IPs that you can use, ONLY after they are announced on your upstream provider (local ISP, cloud, enterprise, etc.)
You should receive a Letter of Authorization (LoA) immediately that you can forward to your provider so that they can include your IP block on their border gateways using the exterior protocol, BGP. This LoA gives any service provider the authority to advertise the IPs among different Autonomous Systems (AS) on the Internet.
As shown in the picture, the exterior gateway protocol, eBGP, exchanges information between ASs (ie. ISPs). When you give the LoA to your service provider, they now have the authority to announce the IP subnet with their own AS (or yours) using the eBGP protocol. With this process, all your lease IP address blocks will be routable on the Internet.
4. What to Look For on An IP Renting Service?
The rent IP address provider is, in fact, a registered LIR (a member of one or more RIRs). When you lease IP address space from one of these services, they are temporarily giving you (via the LoA) authority over a portion of their IP addresses.
So, what qualities or characteristics should you look for in these services?
4.1 Make sure the IP rental service is the direct provider that owns all IPs.
If a company owns the IPs, the allocation should be straightforward and fast. Involving brokers, middle-mans, or third-party companies to take care of someone else’s IPs can make IP rental more complicated and expensive. Bear in mind that brokers DO NOT OWN these IPs, so their authority level over these IPs is entirely different than that of an LIR, which owns them. Look for IP leasing providers offering IPv4 address blocks larger than /24, like /23 and /22. They likely own all the IPs.
4.2 Make sure the IPs can be deployed quickly.
When an IP rental provider owns the IPs, the turnaround will be much faster. Look for services that are capable of at least announcing IPs 24 hours after placing an order. Also, look for services that give you flexibility and agility for deploying the IPs. You might also need a server (dedicated or virtual) to host the IPs very fast without much hassle.
4.3 Find out the region where the provider is registered.
The LoA that the rent IP address provider gives you should be able to be used according to the RIR where the provider is registered. Still, suppose your private network is spanning more than one region (for cases like VPNs and Proxies). In that case, you should be able to announce a prefix that belongs to one region in another (this depends on where a business is registered.)
4.4 There are extra features that can make your IP deployments much easier:
Some of the features below can be beneficial only in some cases.
- reverse DNS (rDNS) resolution. The rDNS protocol finds the domain name associated with the IP. When you obtain the new lease IP address block, you need to create their rDNS records (entries). Ensure the service helps you with rDNS configuration.
- Geolocate your IPs. Geolocating your IPs can be very useful for specific use cases, such as personalizing content, detecting fraud, targeting ads, geo-fencing, traffic analysis, etc. Likely, the IP renting service won’t have an IP geolocation service (or database), but it is a plus if they work with the leading 3rd-party geo IP providers. These providers are capable of mapping your IPs to a precise geographical location, starting with the home RIR, then going down to the country, area, weather code, local ISP, and even zip code.
- Compliance with BYOIP. Big cloud providers are now allowing you to Bring Your Own IP (BYOIP) address space and use them with their services. For example, you can bring your recently rented IPs deployed on a specific application to update firewall rules in CloudFlare, or use them with AWS Global Accelerator, Oracle Cloud, Google Cloud Platform, etc.
- Servers or VPSs. As mentioned before, look for services that can also give flexibility in deployment. For example, some services can also rent you (or include) infrastructure or Virtual Private Servers to deploy your new IP addresses.
4.5 Flexible and transparent paying options.
Make sure they allow flexibility while paying. Ensure that they accept different payment methods from credit card, Paypal, or Bitcoin. Also, look for payment flexibility in terms of short-term and long-term. Take a year lease, if you are using IPs in the long run, for things like web scraping or delivering content, but take monthly for experimental applications like pen-testing or sandboxing.
Additionally, make sure that the rental provider does not include any hidden fees or accumulative price increases.
4.6 Customer support.
Customer support is one of the most important considerations when getting a new IP. Look for companies that already have a good reputation. Does the company provide an SLA? What kind of customer support do they provide? Is it just a 24×7 chatbot and FAQ, which is solving all issues? Or is it a live agent?
5. Lease IPs Address Space: The Benefits.
Getting a new IPv4 block by becoming a Local Internet Registry (LIR) or member of an RIR is not practical. LIRs assign IP addressing space to the end-users of network services. The most common LIRs are ISPs, whose customers are their own network end-users. When becoming an LIR, you’ll have to submit a request to your RIR, open a ticket, and then wait to get approved. You’ll likely go back and forth for a couple of months without even knowing if you are getting approved.
One thing that you’ll quickly find out is that we are really running out of IP addresses. IPv4 pools from RIRs are getting empty. So the possibility of getting IPv4 space is getting lower.
As we mentioned before, one of the best reasons to lease IP address space is to avoid going through the cumbersome process of becoming an LIR.
Other Key Benefits From Leasing IP Address Space?
- Renting from direct owners. Although you could lease IP address space from a broker, renting from a direct owner will save you time, money, and resources. If no middle man gets involved, the streamlined process is faster and cheaper.
- Avoid blacklisting with your dedicated IPs. In services like app/website hosting, domain names might share one IP with other domains. If the neighbor (sharing your IP) generates bad traffic and gets blacklisted, your domain will also get blacklisted. Avoid this by leasing clean and dedicated IPs.
- Get a large IPv6 address space and start migrating. Now that everybody is running out of IP addresses (IPv4 to be specific), it is an excellent time to start thinking about IPv6 migration. A small-medium IPv4 address block is the only way to start your migration to IPv6.
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