How to get IP addresses?

This article explains how to get your own IP addresses and why you might want them. I try to make it as information dense as possible.

You might ask yourself: “Don’t I get an IP address when I click a virtual server?”

That’s true, you will get an IP address, but that’s just one and it has been assigned by your hosting provider or ISP. This article will cover IP address ranges (a.k.a. netblocks or IP subnets).

So where does my ISP get their IP addresses from?

They are not arbitrarily chosen, they have been allocated the a regional Internet registry (short: RIR) such as ARIN, RIPE NCC, APNIC, LACNIC and AFRINIC.

These organizations manage their allocations they received from the IANA. Usually RIRs are managed as a non-profit association where everybody can become a member of.

What’s the difference between the IP address I get from my ISP and such an allocation?

That one single IP address is not portable. You cannot just use it somewhere else. Maybe your hosting provider allows you to re-use one IP with a different service (such as AWS and their Elastic IP addresses) within their service umbrella, but you can never use for instance an AWS Elastic IP in Google Cloud now.

The IP addresses which will be allocated to you by a RIR is considered portable in a sense of: You can decide where it should be used. However, portable is a distinct keyword within the RIR terminology. We will discuss this later.

Okay, got it. Can I get now my IP address from a RIR?

No. At least you won’t get just one IP address. You’ll get an allocation of at least a /24 for IPv4 and /48 for IPv6. This is due to the fact that this allocation sizes are the absolute minimum within the default-free zone.

Alright, give me a /24 and/or a /48 then!

I’ll explain the process for the RIPE NCC which serves the RIPE region.

A long time ago it was possible to get so called portable assignments, sometimes called portable address space. At RIPE theses are called ASSIGNED PI which stands for provider independent assignments. These are meant to end-users which do not want to become a member of the RIPE NCC. This translates to saving actual money. An assignment is usually 50 EUR per year while a full membership costs around 1,400 EUR a year.

This PI space is meant to be directly assigned to an end-user (you) and should never be aggregated by an ISP. That’s the portable keyword in the RIR terminology.

It is no longer possible to obtain an ASSIGNED IP assignment first hand. When the RIPE NCC started to allocate from their final /8 allocation they received from the IANA, they were no longer assigning portable address space for IPv4.

It is still possible to obtain an ASSIGNED IP assignment for IPv6 though.

Okay, why is not everyone using that portable address space then?

The policy states: You must not use that address space for your customers. It is meant for your own Internet connection which you’ll use within your organization.

Becoming a LIR allows you to manage your allocation address space more flexible. You also get way more address space. Although that applies only for IPv6. For IPv4 you’ll be placed on a waiting list and you will only get a /24 anymore.

Got it! But why do I need that now?

Like hinted earlier, it’s possible to use your address space with any ISP. At least theoretically. More and more hosting providers allow you to bring your own IP address space.

Besides the portability aspect, there is more to it:

  • You can build a high-available failover for your services and/or Internet connection with multiple upstreams. That’s called multihoming.
  • You can take your servers or deployments, migrate it to some other hoster without having the need to renumber all services. You can take your address space with you.
  • You can decide who will receive abuse emails. That’s relevant when you run services as Tor exit nodes, VPN exit nodes and email services.

Okay, hook me up. I want it!

You need a hosting service provider which actually supports that. I can fully recommend the following ones:

  • Vultr
    • You don’t need an ASN. IP space is sufficient enough.
    • Offering starts at 3.50 USD a month.
    • You can pay hourly.
  • vServer.site
    • You will need an ASN.
    • Offering starts at 10 EUR a month.
    • Highly capable customer support.

Secondly, you’ll need address space. But my company got you covered here. We provide Internet resources as a starter kit.

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