back to article Bankrupt Borders flogs 65,536 IP addresses at $12 a pop

The bankrupt bookseller Borders wants to sell its stash of 65,536 IP addresses to healthcare software vendor Cerner for $12 per address. The bust high street chain filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in February, and has been selling off its assets to pay its creditors ever since. The address sale is one of its last …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No wonder...

    No wonder we're running out of IPs! Why on earth would a bookshop require a class B address block?!

    I've worked in telecoms companies who have a subset of a class C block, and don't come anywhere close to using even that!

    Remember, these are public IPs, they don't have any influence on the number of machines you can have on the private, internal part of your network, only the number of unique public facing servers.

    1. Jim Morrow

      > Why on earth would a bookshop require a class B address block?!

      why wouldn't it?

      borders' ip space was allocated a long time ago. they got it before the current systems and policies for handing out address space were invented. back then, the usual unit of allocation was a /16 (class b to you) because /24s tended to be too small. presumably borders said "we need a few thousand ip addresses" and the guy behind the counter said ok then, here's your class b".

      borders had several hundred bookshops, if not thousands. having 20-50 addresses per shop would be reasonable. allow a few thousands for headquarters and regional offices, warehouses, distribution centres, etc. this'll add up to a good chunk of a /16.

      > I've worked in telecoms companies who have a subset of a class C block, and don't come anywhere close to using even that!

      ah yes. that must have been the telecoms companies that use phone numbers and x.25 or flog handsets and can't even spell ip. giving them an allocation smaller than a /24 seems sensible.

      fyi, unless an organisation got ip addresses in the early days of the internet, they get address space by showing they have a real need for it. because that's how the system has worked for the last 15+ years. so if these telecoms companies you worked for - did they sell phones? - only got a /26 (say), that must have been because that was all they could use. or they were too stupid/lazy/feckless to figure out how to ask for more.

      private address space isn't always the answer either. imagine renumbering a large network that's to be merged with another network already using the same private address space: for example as a result of a corporate acquisition.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        What planet are you on?

        "having 20-50 addresses per shop would be reasonable"

        1 per shop would be reasonable, 2 acceptable.

        No wonder we ran out of addresses so quick.

        1. Jim Morrow

          i'm on planet earth: which one do you inhabit?

          > 1 per shop would be reasonable, 2 acceptable.

          only to you. as has already been pointed out, the internet was very different when borders got its address space 15-20 years ago. there was almost no nat and hardly any use of proxies. [squid and socks were the new big thing back in the mid 1990's.] private networks were just that: private. they had no connectivity to the public internet *at all*. so things that could get access to the internet in those days pretty much had to use public address space. they had no choice.

          bookshops were one of the first retailers to go on-line and provide internet cafe-type things for their customers. the typical branch of $bookchain could quite easily have had 10-20 computers for people to browse this new-fangled interweb thing, around 10 point of sale terminals -- how do barcode readers find the info for itemised bills? -- a handful of back-office computers and servers, a firewall or two, a couple of links to the internet and corporate network, etc. soon adds up, eh?almost none of these would or could have been on private addresses.

          > No wonder we ran out of addresses so quick

          yeah, right. it's borders' fault the world ran out of ipv4. it's got fuck all to do with hundreds of millions of people getting internet access at home. or the hundreds of millions who have smart phones. or the milions of companies who switched their networks to tcp/ip and then plugged in every employee's peecee. oh no. they had absolutely nothing to do with v4 exhaustion.

          fact: the world has been guzzling a /8 of ipv4 space just about every month for the last 10 years or so. there are only 256 /8s and not all of these are available for allocation. this means the world is running out of ipv4 space more or less when it was expected to: around 30 years since it started.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @Jim Morrow: Are you for real?

            "> No wonder we ran out of addresses so quick"

            "yeah, right. it's borders' fault"

            I 'm not blaming Borders, that comment was aimed at you. The thinking that you need one public IP for every terminal in a building.

            You show me any reference that says that Borders had 10~20 PCs per shop in the days pre-Nat, pre-Broadband? Do you really think they had 10~20 PCS running over dial-up or do you think every single store had a leased line?

            You do realise that Private IP space was always available? You run you office/department on a Private IP address block and then run a proxy to fetch from the web using a single public IP address.

            "10 point of sale terminals -- how do barcode readers find the info for itemised bills?" - really! Do you honestly think that POS terminals now or ever connected up to the public web to get sale info?

            Jeez, that data is sent down from head office, sits on a server an is read from there. The same way it always has done. Even if you wanted live up-to-the-second data. You run a VPN over dial-up, leased line using ***Private addresses***. This was days pre-public facing services on general back-office servers. You are trying to claim that a bookshop was at the forefront of this technology running internet cafes and live updating real-time price control from third party companies- don't make me laugh.

            These, weren't workarounds - this is what happened and still do.

            Back in Pre-Nat days there was no comprehension of having so many devices connected directly to the web or having every PC connected. It was just a major land grab to show your status and size of your company.

            It is your warped ideas Mr Morrow in a weird mix of taking the current and trying to reverse engineer it into the past and coming up with nonsense.

    2. Vic

      > Why on earth would a bookshop require a class B address block?!

      Because that's how it was done when the allocation was made.

      In days of yore, allocations were class A, B, or C. The CIDR-notated allocations we now see as normal just didn't happen.

      NAT wasn't exactly widespread; machines usually had globally-routable addresses, and big office firewalls to stop anything routing to them. That's just how things were.

      So for an organisation that wanted more than ~200 machines - which would describe Borders - a class B allocation would have been entirely normal.

      It was an error, of course - a NATted private address range makes most things much easier - but mistakes were made. No-one thought the address range would run out - there's 4 billion of them, fer cryin' out loud. Who would ever need more than that(tm)?

      And, of course, once the mistake has been made, it's hard to row back from it. I've recently been working for a big telecoms provider that uses globally-routable addresses on all internal machines. There's no need for it, of course - but it would cost real money to convert to private IP space. And, given that there is absolutely no pressure whatsoever to change, those addresses will not be handed back.


      1. Chad H.

        If you think THATS big

        Go look up Ford - they have a Class A block!

    3. skeptical i

      Wasn't Borders owned by or part of K-Mart?

      K-Mart at one point had its "" ISP service (dialup for sure, may have closed shop before consumer-grade broadband became a viable option). Relevant?

  2. jake Silver badge

    I gave up my personal "Class C" in late 1996 ...

    Seemed kinda pointless at the time; I had just sold my "portal" to idiots with more money than brains, and decided that I didn't need the address space anymore.

    In retrospect, it was a good decision ... Who needs that many routable IP addresses?

    1. Yes Me Silver badge

      Who needs that many?

      Nobody needs "that many". Everybody needs enough. Enough means one for every device, and none of this constricting NAT nonsense.

      Not that it's a problem, once your ISP supports IPv6. The dinosaurs will thrash around and sell each other IPv4 space for a while, of course. Run IPv6, sit back, and enjoy the fight.

      1. jake Silver badge

        "Constricting NAT nonsence"?

        Kids these days ... No clue what "security" means.

  3. Ralph B

    I'm Rich!

    I'm gonna sell my stash and make $$$$!

    (I might even sell off chunks in my and ranges if the offer is right.)

    1. My Alter Ego

      I don't know who sold it to you

      But I think you'll find I'm the rightful owner of the block, I bought it for a mere £0.10 in 1991.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Ill sell off my 127/8 range!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Thats ok...

        ...I own and have patent rights ( a somethingorother for a thing to get an IP address when something is broken or not quite right or is working fine but want to use it anyway) for exclusive use of the 169 range.

        Knowingly infriging this will cot you a gazillion dollars...or a decent bar of chocolate.

      2. Tavon

        you appear to be using them, i can ping all the addresses.

        1. RattyDAVE

          Of course they are in use! They are very valuable and would not want to waste them.

          While we are at it. I have TLD to sell as well.


    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Lot of competition there, don't think you'll get much of a price.

  4. Magnus_Pym


    ipv4 address are running short! Obsolete network hardware is outdated! It is costing corporations for not thinking ahead! Who could have imagined that such a thing would happen!

    Oh yes. everybody. Panic over, as you were people.

  5. dogged


    Still have an open shop in the Mall of the Emirates, by the way.

    1. The Fuzzy Wotnot

      A sad loss

      Borders was my one refuge from the nightmare shopping trips while out with my beloved!

      I knew I could cope with visits to the high street clothes shops with my Missus as I knew I would get an hour or two to spend in Borders browsing and reading at the end of a hard Saturday's footwork.

  6. Jock in a Frock

    @ Ralph B

    Hmm, strange... I can't seem to route to your networks.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ARIN needs to claw back some of the ancient class A/B allocations.

    1. Kirbini

      Ah, yes, that old canard

      Not gonna happen, so get over it. For one, who has them that is not using them? A lot of the Class B holders are using the allocations internally. Can you imagine the cost involved in a 65,000 IP migration?

      But even that's a failed argument. The fact is that there are very few entire B classes that are owned privately. If every non-ISP/Telecom Class B block were returned today it would amount to less than 5% of all available v4 B blocks and would be allocated in fewer than 6 months.

      So what's that supposed to fix again?

  8. Kirbini

    IPv6 FTW!

    I for one welcome our new IPv6 overlords.

    Oh wait, I am one.

    < maniacal laugh>

    < maniacal laugh>

    < maniacal laugh>

  9. FreeTard


    Why bother when we have ipv6 right now?

    Waste of money if you ask me.... and yes I do have ipv6 at home, and so can anyone else who bothers looking.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wonder when HP will try and sell theirs?

    HP has two whole class A blocks (15/8 & 16/8, they bought the wrong company so couldn't build a /7) and Lord alone knows how many class B and C blocks. At $12 per address (perhaps more for a bigger block) that would make a nice contribution to a quarters numbers :-)

  11. Grahame 2


    If this was RIPE not ARIN the address range would revert to the registry when the company ceased. RIPE's terms prohibit sale of IP space, a very sensible policy to prevent land grabs IMO.

    1. Jim Morrow

      ripe ncc, arin and all the other rirs follow the same policy wrt unused space they issued: it comes back to them for reallocation to somebody else.

      legacy space is not covered by these policies. however arin (the first rir) has to maintain database entries for them since they got stuck with that responsibility when they took over management of ip address space from the network information center that was funded by the arpanet people. some people might get the wrong idea that since borders had space that was known to arin, the space was subject to arin's policies.

      btw ripe and ripe ncc are very different things. try not to confuse them. ripe does not issue ip addresses. ripe ncc does.

  12. Chad H.

    Which Borders?

    IIRC Borders UK was a seperate company to Borders US...

    1. Jim Morrow

      who gives a shit? both companies are dead.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    you cant sell them

    no company 'owns' them - the registrars look after them. look carefully at the microsoft purchase recently made and you'll see that the addresses were given back to the registrar. the same will happen int his instance too - AFTER the big headline saying that they got bought for $$$$$ - the sort of story that gets our management thinking they can sell off an old /19 for $$$CASH$$$

  14. sacremon

    Perhaps behind the times but...

    I used to work for a Tier 1 ISP in the US, and it was my impression that no one can sell their IP addresses. The IP addresses belong to the regional registries (ARIN in this case) and that all that Borders can do is give them back to ARIN for re-allocation. Has something changed?

    1. Jim Morrow

      > all that Borders can do is give them back to ARIN for re-allocation. Has something changed?

      no. all 5 rirs follow the same policy. their members have to return unused or unwanted space for reallocation by the rir that issued it. borders got their address space before the rir system was created. the big hint here was getting a /16. so they are not bound by rir policy for that space. borders were probably never members of arin either.

      it seems strange that companies are buying up legacy address space when they could get the same space (or even more) from their rir for a nominal fee. except in asia-pacific because apnic has run out of ipv4.

      btw, nobody owns ip addresses, including the rirs and iana. you have a right to use the address space you've been given. ip addresses are not property. domain names aren't either. the fact they get traded and money might change hands does not alter these facts.

  15. IGnatius T Foobar

    no IP addresses for Microsoft

    Considering how much Microsoft has tried to do to harm the open Internet, they should not be permitted to have *any* IP addresses.

    And we should also revoke all of Facebook's addresses for the same reason.

  16. TonyHoyle

    Yes they can't sell them

    They don't own them - ARIN do. If a court tries to authorise the sale (which would be bizarre - never heard of a court allowing you to sell something you do not own before) they either

    a) revoke the right of the recipient to use the block

    b) claim the entire amount of the sale as their own, as it's their property

    c) both of the above

    c) would be quite fun to watch..

    1. Jim Morrow

      > They don't own them - ARIN do.

      nope. *nobody* owns *any* ip addresses. anyone who says otherwise is either lying or doesn't know what they're talking about. just because something has a monetary value and can be traded doesn't mean it is property in the legal sense of that word.

      ip addresses are just numbers. saying you own a bunch of them is as ridiculous as saying you own the number 42 or all prime numbers,

    2. DaWolf

      you don't sell them

      you create a shell company, transfer the licenses to said shell company "Borders IP" for nothing, then sell the company.

      The licenses themselves are then irrelevant, as long as you own "Borders IP".

  17. Mark 65

    Oh dear

    "A website launched in April hopes to allow companies to trade IPv4 addresses on the open market."

    Cue the arrival of the venture capitalists and private equity types to buy up large blocks as "investments" if ever this came to fruition.

    1. Vic

      > Cue the arrival of the venture capitalists and private equity types to buy

      > up large blocks as "investments"

      That might not be the worst thing in the world.

      If enough of it happened, the artificial scarcity of IPv4 addresses would drive up the price - and that would mean the uptake of IPv6 would increase rapidly.

      So we'd get IPv6 support to be more commonplace, and a bunch of VC parasites would lose a shedload of cash. Seems like a plan...


    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      And 99% of the known and unknown Internet

      would become "What you need, when you need it", with the rest belonging to some small but ancient company that practically invented the Internet but nobody's ever heard of.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      that would be like

      holding on to old ram, as the prices go up as the end of generation stuff ceases production.

      then you have a *very* finite window to take advantage (an upgrade cycle?) before the price falls through the floor.

      I made a few quid off some EDO sticks back in the day...

  18. TeeCee Gold badge

    Weasel words.

    "While the debtors believe that this court has the authority to authorize the sale of the internet addresses over any such objection by ARIN..."

    I believe that a simple translation of this would be; "If ARIN turn this down we'll sue the living shit out of them."

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    When I worked ATT I had senior admin say that up to 15% off the IP4 allocation records were lost. Meaning that they did not know who they were to assigned to . He also said from time to time ARIN try and get back unused IP address but often times the big companies said we are have them and go bug off. Then he said you things like ATT. Yes we have IP addresses we own but do to screw ups we can't assign them or use them our selfs. The cost to fix them is more than it's worth . The way he explained made it seem like ARIN was giant cluster fuck of inherited problems that makes it diffract to claw back IP4 addresses .

  20. Fuzz

    $12 per IP address

    It's accepted that the reason you don't give back your /16 is because the cost of renumbering 65000 computers to local addresses would be huge. However, is the cost more than $12 per address because if not, that sounds like a nice money spinner for any companies given these ranges.

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