The current internet infrastructure was never meant to withstand the onslaught of modern-day users. The 4.3 billion IPv4 addresses are simply not enough for the current population nearing 8 billion; yet, today, millions of devices are dependent on IP resource accessibility. In order to keep the network from collapsing under the sheer pressure of always-on connections, the internet needs to adopt a new governance model that would lay a solid groundwork for further expansion. The IP Address Market, developed by Heficed, reallocates scarce IP resources, paving the way for more sustainable growth in the IoT era.

In the early days of the internet, no one could have anticipated the unprecedented network growth that would deplete all available IPv4 resources — the idea was deemed unrealistic, considering that computers and other tech were not easily accessible for the everyday consumer. This led to IPs being rather freely shared throughout the market, and without thorough end-user tracking being done at the time, some even considered sharing IP resources a grey area in the industry.

Now, leasing IP resources could prove to be key to suffice the needs of the exponentially growing IT market. A single household in the U.S. alone has an average of 11 connected devices, and with further technology development and businesses scaling their operations, the network strain will only continue to increase. In order to progress alongside the growing market, the Internet needs to adopt a new governance model based on the numerous stakeholders sharing rather than hoarding resources.

“If you think about it, the internet was actually built on the notion of sharing available resources to support network sustainability,” said Vincentas Grinius, CEO of Heficed. “Let’s consider a simple example: An ISP has a fiber cable from Seattle to Chicago; however, it doesn’t have one connecting New York to Chicago. The company then leases fiber lines from other providers in order to extend its infrastructure. This shows how important it is to share resources between different market players to maintain interconnectivity. Same goes for sharing IP addresses. Sharing — or leasing — would not only open up new prospects for the business that hit a wall due to IP shortage but could also help maintain network stability, as with the redistribution of resources, some of the strain would also disperse throughout the network.”

There is a vast amount of unused IPv4 assets that could reenter the market. Often, these resources are owned by corporations that neither use them for scaling their own infrastructure nor leverage them for profit. This was the main motivator behind the development of the IP Address Market: encouraging organizations to lease their unused IPv4s and, in turn, leveling out the playing field for smaller players that want to enter the market.

“IPs used to be an exclusive asset — that’s why some still hesitate to consider that, now, they are a tradable commodity,” Grinius said. “There is already a booming IP broker and lessor market; therefore, IP leasing is not a new derivative but rather the obvious next step for the industry, seeking to maintain its growth. Leasing enables small and medium companies to enter the market alongside top tier corporations, creating more opportunities for innovation and all-round industry development."

Sharing resources are an inevitable part of the future development of the internet, but in order to ensure truly productive cooperation that would benefit the entire network, more market players need to take part in the conversation, according to Grinius.

“The only way the industry is going to thrive is by adopting a more mutualism-based approach concerning both resources and ideas,” he said. “That’s why more ventures need to join the conversation and support solutions that can be implemented towards sustainable network governance.”