BGP Private and Public AS Range

Just like IP addresses, ASNs (Autonomous System Numbers) have to be unique on the Internet. The main reason for this is that BGP uses the AS number for its loop prevention mechanism. When BGP learns about a route that has its own AS number in its path then it will be discarded.

Here’s an example:

BGP Duplicate AS Number

Above we have three routers, R1 and R3 are using the same AS number. Once R1 sends an update, R2 will accept it but R3 will not since the AS number is the same.

To prevent the above from happening, IANA is in control of the AS numbers (similar to public IP addresses). If you want an AS number for the Internet then you’ll have to request one. They started with 16-bit AS numbers (also called 2-octet AS numbers) that were assigned like this:

  • 0: reserved.
  • 1-64.495: public AS numbers.
  • 64.496 – 64.511 – reserved to use in documentation.
  • 64.512 – 65.534 – private AS numbers.
  • 65.535 – reserved.

The 1-64.495 public AS range is pretty small so there are similar issues to the IPv4 public IP addresses, there aren’t enough numbers. Right now (May 2015) there are only 199 AS numbers left that could be assigned. You can see the current status of available AS numbers here.

To get more AS numbers, an extension has been created that supports 32-bit AS numbers (also called 4-octet AS numbers). This means we have about 4.294.967.296 AS numbers that we can use.

When you request an AS number you’ll have to justify why you need a public AS number. For some organizations, using a private AS number should also be a solution.

Private AS numbers can be used when you are connected to a single AS that uses a public AS number. Here’s an example:

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Forum Replies

  1. Hi Sahil,

    You can see it in this example:

    BGP Remove Private AS

    R2 will have the private AS paths in its own BGP table so it knows what to do.


  2. Hi Rene,
    I know we need to create iBGP in the same AS and eBGP between different AS. However, I have some questions.
    How do we define the different AS? Does one company have one AS regardless of their branches and location? What if one company has two branches. (Site A and site B. Site A is the headquarter). Does each sites have their own AS? (Two different AS in this case?) Or, are they considered in the same AS even if they are in the different location? If I connect the two sites via BGP, will it be eBGP? or iBGP?
    Thank you

  3. Hello Bruce

    ISPs of all levels that administrate infrastructure that supports the Internet are assigned specific AS numbers, and they use them as they see fit within their network. Generally speaking, Autonomous Systems within ISPs are clustered together geographically, to a certain extent. You will have a network segmented into various different sections each with its own AS, and they’re interconnected using eBGP. Something like this, but to a much bigger scale:

    ... Continue reading in our forum

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