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What Ever Happened to the Closed Local Internet Registries?

Mirjam Kuehne

Since the establishment of the RIPE NCC, 5,000 Local Internet Registries (LIRs) have closed (see: From 80 to 8,000 - The Growth of the RIPE NCC). We wanted to find out why. Many of them were probably victims of the burst of the dotcom bubble. But how many? And which countries were mostly affected? How many closures were the results of mergers? We've got answers below.

How many LIRs that started up during the dotcom bubble have since closed?

If we define the dotcom bubble as the three years between 1999 and 2002, then 978 of dotcom LIRs have since closed. This accounts for 36% of all closed LIRs. The reason for closure could be anything from not paying invoices, stopping their business, renaming, merging or being taken over (see some more details on reasons for closure below). As you can see in the image below, around 50% of those LIRs were located in the UK, Germany, Russia, Italy and the Netherlands.

What are the reasons for closing an LIR?

It is difficult to reliably determine the reasons why LIRs stop doing business. To get an idea, we looked at a sample of all LIRs that opened in the UK during the dotcom bubble and that have since closed. This might not be a representative sample, but it adds up to 15% of all closed LIRs that opened during the dotcom bubble years. It at least gives an indication of the various reasons why LIRs closed.

In the image below you can see that almost 50% of all closures were caused by non-payment. Nearly one-third of the LIRs that closed, merged with or were taken over by other LIRs. Around 20% of the LIRs closed for other reasons, often because they decided to stop their business.

How long were closed LIRs operational?

We also looked at the time LIRs were operational before they closed. In the image below, you can see that the majority of LIRs were open for less than five years. But there are also a number of LIRs that were in operation for over 15 years. Some of them were probably taken over or merged into other organisations and might still be around in some form. The average time that a now-closed LIR was a member of the RIPE NCC is 4.3 years.

We also looked at those LIRs that opened during the dotcom bubble. Their average life-span was very similar: 4.6 years. That means that the dotcom generation does not behave that different from others; we just saw many more signing up during those days.

For more information and statistics, please refer to the background article on RIPE Labs: Why Do LIRs Close?

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Interesting, but one more average to check Suresh Ramasubramanian  –  Apr 17, 2012 9:31 AM PST

how many of the really short lived LIRs .. the 0 to 1 and 1 to 2 year lifespan ones - closed in the last three or four years, after the dotcom boom and its subsequent bust?

and is a country level breakdown of these timelines available?  LIRs closing during the dotcom bust, vs recently closed ones?

also, how many of the ones that closed due to non payment appeared to be intentional (like where they were an LLC, had a maildrop address and were completely untraceable for billing when rhe bills came due?). is there a country level breakdown of such LIRs, or any indication that such are more common now than in the dotcom boom and bust?

Re: Interesting, but one more average to check Mirjam Kuehne  –  Apr 18, 2012 9:40 AM PST

Suresh, thanks for your interest and your questions. Unfortunately we don't have the answers readily available. We will investigate and possibly publish more information on RIPE Labs.

Thank you! Suresh Ramasubramanian  –  Apr 22, 2012 5:53 AM PST

Appreciate it if you could include the results in an updated version of your report - the data you have could stand a bit more mining :)

And yes please do post it on circleid as well ..

Response to first question Mirjam Kuehne  –  Apr 22, 2012 6:14 AM PST

Hi Suresh, thanks again for your interest. We now have an answer to your first question:

From all the LIRs counted as closed in the graph showing the membership duration, 789 were in operation for less than 2 years. 196 of them closed in the last 4 years, between 1 April 2008 and 1 April 2012.

The other questions still require some more digging.

OK - 15.78% of the closures are short lived LIRs, ~ 4% of them closed in the last 4 years. Suresh Ramasubramanian  –  Apr 22, 2012 7:34 PM PST

Is there any timeline when the majority of them closed?  That is did the rest of them mostly close around the dotcom bust of 1999-2002?

How much IP space was requested / allocated by those closed LIRs on an average (and how the LIRs would classify in terms of RIPE membership during their lifetime - small? extra large?) might prove interesting.

Further, is IP space allocated to the defunct LIR but not yet allotted to an end user reclaimed for reallocation by RIPE?

IP Address Space of closed LIRs Mirjam Kuehne  –  Apr 24, 2012 1:39 AM PST

Dear Suresh,

We'll be looking some more into this. Thanks for all the good follow-up questions. To answer your last question: yes, the entire block of IP address space belonging to those LIRs that close is reclaimed by the RIPE NCC.

that is excellent Suresh Ramasubramanian  –  Apr 24, 2012 9:57 AM PST

thank you, and the followups are getting a lot of very useful data

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