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Why is the price of IPv4 addresses so high?

Published on February 11th, 2022

As anyone purchasing or selling IPv4 addresses knows, the price for IPv4 addresses more than doubled in 2021. Prices went from less than $25 USD per IP to north of $50 USD per IP, for virtually all block sizes.  This increase was unprecedented, as the previous trend in the market went from $5 per IP in 2013 to $25 per IP by the end of 2020, a 7 year period. 

Why did the IPv4 price suddenly jump so much in 2021?

IPv4 Market Group - Price/IP over Time 2021

The chart above shows IPv4 Market Group’s price and volume experience.  The steep spike in 2021 is clearly visible.

At IPv4 Market Group, we believe the increase is due to a significant drop in IPv4 supply, and Economics 101, illustrated in the chart below, suggests that a supply curve that shifts to the left, will cause the price increase. 

IPv4 Market Group - Price Trends for 2021

Demand has continued unabated, and yet the volume of IPv4 addresses transferred each year has fallen for four straight years.

IPv4 Market Group - Annual Transfer Volumes for all RIRs 2021

The real question then, is why has the supply of IPv4 fallen? 

There are a finite number of IPv4 addresses, 232, or 4,294,967,296 to be precise.  It seems that the low hanging fruit of readily free IPs has already been transferred.  It also seems that there could be speculation on the part of some potential sellers, who are seeing the doubling of price in the past year, and wondering if it will continue to double each year.  Thus, they are hesitating in coming to market.  It may also be that many potential sellers are looking at the continued slow uptake of IPv6, and are hanging on to their IPv4 addresses, just in case they need them. 

Regardless, we are in a period of less supply, continued demand, and upward IPv4 price pressure.