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Use CG-NAT to meet IPv4 exhaustion challenges

In a previous blog post, Jes detailed the shortage in IPv4 occurring all over the world. IPv4 addresses are now sold in a parallel market, in which “panic buying” can happen for newcomers willing to get their part of the addressable Internet space. A new record occurred in September & October 2021, with a price per IP address reaching 60$ for resources allocated by RIPE NCC and ARIN. Rising prices are most probably driven by an excess of demand and the slow adoption of IPv6 is strengthening this trend. It makes it very hard to control the increase of such a secondary market.

If we compare the data from a single IPv4 brokerage, named, the increase of price between February 2020, 21$ for a /24, and August 2021, 46$ for a /24, seems to follow an exponential curve, knowing the average IPv4 price in 2015 was around 15$.

Service providers expanding their subscriber base are now facing a real challenge, as all of them are looking nowadays to control and reduce their costs. To counterbalance the increase in price for IPv4 addresses, using CG-NAT seems an obvious alternative to lower overall TCO, allowing to share a public IPv4 between several customers.

Let’s take a simple example, comparing a model in which all new customers are assigned a public IPv4 address, versus using 6WIND’s virtual Service Edge Router as a CG-NAT appliance in the service provider network.

Let’s assume that an ISP will get 8 thousand of new subscribers in a year.

Buying 8000 IPv4 addresses (/19) would cost 392,000 USD, using the average price of 49$ per IP.

Now, let’s imagine this Service Provider deploys 6WIND’s CG-NAT solution, and 63 customers are able to share a single public IPv4 address (assuming in average, 1000 ports will be allocated to each customer). As such, they would require only 127 IPv4 addresses, which would cost approximately 6,000 USD.

In order to deploy the solution, the ISP will need to invest in the hardware, the software license, and the support & maintenance fee.

The hardware would be any Commercial-Off-The-Shelf server in the market. Let’s assume that the cost of the appliance is about 5,000 USD, which would be a reasonable price to build a 100Gbps+ capable CG-NAT box.

The advised software license cost for such a scenario would be in the order of magnitude of 20,000 USD with support for 5M concurrent sessions.

If we compare the TCO of both approaches, it would be:

  • Without CG-NAT: 392,000$
  • With CG-NAT: 6,000$ (IPv4 addresses) + 5,000$ (hardware) + 20,000$ (SW) = 31,000$

If you look again at the cost per user, CG-NAT enables ISPs to bring down the cost per user from 49 USD to 4 USD if CG-NAT is used. That’s a whopping cost saving of 90%. Using 6WIND’s CG-NAT solution is without any doubts a cost-effective solution for Service Providers to extend the use of IPv4 address space, ensuring a smoother migration to IPv6.

Furthermore, the 6WIND Virtual CG-NAT is a software-based solution that runs on COTS hardware enabling ISPs not to be locked in with a single vendor and to achieve performance equivalent or better than hardware-based solution, but at a fraction of the price.

6WIND’s expertise for more than 20 years in high-performance networking software on general-purpose CPUs makes it the partner of choice to provide a carrier-grade solution to ISPs, supporting throughput over 200Gbps.

Whether you are an existing service provider looking to grow your customer base or a new service provider, 6WIND can help you grow your business while keeping your costs low. Contact us for more information or to schedule a free trial.
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Author:Nicolas Harnois