Getting Started Selling IP Addresses

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Getting Started Selling IP Addresses

26 January 2017
 Categories: Technology, Blog

Is your organization looking for some extra cash? One way a company, corporation, or even government can earn extra money is to sell IP address blocks. Many companies that declare bankruptcy or are going out of business, for instance, are able to sell their IP address blocks for as much as $12 an address, while governments have often sold unused IP addresses at discounted rates.

If you're new to the idea of selling IP addresses, it may be helpful to understand the basic principles of the IP address market. Specifically, the IP addresses that are being sold are known as IPv4 addresses--so named because when the original Internet (known then as ARPANET) was being developed, researchers initially developed three experimental versions of IP addresses before a fourth version was settled upon for final use. Importantly, the address function of an IPv4 is made using a 32-bit code. This code is capable of creating up to 4 billion unique addresses. That may seem like a lot, but when you factor in not only the number of people who use the Internet but also the number of devices with Internet connectivity--desktop computers, laptops, smart phones, tablets, fitness watches, smart refrigerators--it becomes more apparent that 4 billion is actually a very restrictive amount.

In fact, on February 3, 2011, the stores of new IPv4 addresses were exhausted. In order to obtain more IP addresses, an organization would have to purchase addresses from the existing supply. A new internet protocol, IPv6, solves this with a 128-bit code. While IPv6 continues to be rolled out, however, organizations still use IPv4 addresses--hence the continued demand for the otherwise outdated IPv4 addresses.

The basic steps for selling IP addresses are relatively simple; in fact, the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) maintains a transfer system that can be used for IP address transactions (ARIN asks that transactions occur through their system to allow them to continue providing a registry of addresses). In fact, as far as the most straightforward IP sales go, this system is all you need--you and your buyer can go through the steps, pay ARIN a small processing fee, and be on your way.

Of course, most sales aren't straightforward; they generally involve large blocks of IP addresses and require a marketplace to connect sellers with buyers. Specified Transfer Listing Services (STLS) exist to make those connections. ARIN keeps an updated list with their own registered STLS facilitators; they also have information for finding other STLS brokers.