SEATTLE — Microsoft has shelled out $7.5 million for a block of IPv4 addresses being sold because of hardware vendor Nortel Network’s bankruptcy.
The software giant bought 666,624 IPv4 addresses at a cost of $11.25 each, more than the price of an average .com domain name, according to Thinq.co.uk.
Tech experts say the move marks the first sign of panic buying and a growing grey market as the supply of IPv4 addresses runs out before they can be replaced by the newer IPv6 protocol.
It was reported in February that the last block of IPv4 addresses had been sold, meaning the Internet is now full.
IPv6 uses a 128-bit addressing system to offer 34 undecillion (that's 3.4×10^38) addresses that experts say is more than enough. But switching over to IPv6 could be a slow process, as it requires network operators to replace a great deal of their infrastructure.
Microsoft's was the highest of four bids for Nortel's full IP allocation, which also attracted three bids for part of the block.
Based on the price that Microsoft paid, the value of the existing IPv4 space would be $43.8 billion.