Facing the shortage of IPv4 addresses, UK Internet Service Provider Plusnet is looking for volunteers among its customers to test out sharing the IPv4 addresses on its network.

IPv4 is the current numbering system for issuing IP addresses, but it’s running out of space. However, some ISPs aren’t ready to switch to IPv6 and some devices don’t support the new version.

As a stop-gap solution, Plusnet is running a three-week trial in which customers will share IPv4 addresses, rather than each having their own. A separate username and password will be set up so that when problems occur the customer can switch back to their usual account.

Plusnet will use a Carrier Grade NAT (CGNAT) system, and is looking to find out what apps, services and devices don’t work. It won’t allow customers to host websites or servers, and is expected to cause issues with games.

For most people they will never notice, most mobile operators already use CGNAT and so most applications will work normally. The main problem is where you are hosting services on your broadband connection like hosting a website or hosting games, where you would normally set up port forwarding on your router.

Fixed providers have always given individual addresses to each customer, usually allocated at connection and kept for at least the duration of that connection. But these days there aren’t enough addresses to go around, which is prompting more short term fixes while we continue to wait for IPv6. Unfortunately, IPv6 isn’t ready to implement UK wide just yet as there are applications that don’t work on it.

Plusnet is currently looking for customers willing to test the system, and the trial is set to start at the end of the month. Volunteer here.


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