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ASO Principles - draft for discussion

icann aso internet coordination news
  • From: Geoff Huston <gih@localhost >
  • Date: Thu, 25 Mar 1999 21:57:09 +1100
  • Cc: gih@localhost

Here is a write up of the slide pack that was delivered at the
Singapore ASO meeting. As I understand it (I was not in attendance)
the Minneapolis ASO meeting did not make any substantive changes
in outlook or position to this document, so I'm submitting it
to this list for consideration and discussion.


Geoff Huston


DRAFT V1.0 25/3/98


[preamble about ICANN and the role of the ASO - anyone care to
draft the words?]

This Document

It is intended that this document is a precursor to a formal proposal
to ICANN regarding the creation of the Address Supporting Organization.

The function of this document is to enumerate a set of guiding principles
under which the ASO will operate, and solicit comment from interested
parties as to the merits of these principles and the potential inclusion
of other principles that would assist in the operation of the ASO.


Over the past three decades the role of address allocation within the
Internet community has adapted to suit the needs of the client community
of the day. Initially this function served a small dedicated research
community, and the address allocation functions was predominately one
of coordination of use of address prefixes in order to avoid address
clashes. With increasing levels of adoption of the use of the Internet
across other activity sectors and across many countries the function
of address allocation evolved. Current address allocation policies
include considerations of conservation of consumption of the unallocated
IPv4 address pool, conservation of the use of discreet routing table
entries for address prefixes, and demonstration of need and intended
deployment as a precursor to allocation. No doubt these allocation
policies will be refined further over time, to match the changes in
demand and utility posed by the Internet community. It is envisaged
that such future changes in policy will be undertaken with the active
engagement of the ASO and ICANN, and it is upon this premise that this
document is based.

The Current Role of IP Addresses

Internet Addresses are the currency of connection to the global Internet.
In the same way that a telephone requires assignation of a globally
unique number in order to function within the global telephone network,
an IP device requires assignation of a unique IP address in order to
be a fully functional element of the global Internet. Addresses are
a key attribute of any organization's entry in the Internet environment.

Considering the scope of the Internet today, and the current rates of
permeation of Internet technologies into ever wider environments,
Internet addresses are no longer a technical attribute of a small dedicated
closed community. Internet addresses now meet every criteria of a public
resource, and their management is now a function which can be accurately
characterized as a public resource management operation.

Such functions are relatively well understood within other activities,
such as in the management of the radio spectrum, or the management
of local water supply systems, and the Internet community should take
careful note of such experience in formulating policies and processes
to refine the current Internet address management structures.

Public resource management generally includes considerations of equity
of access to the resource, equity of opportunity of exploitation,
recognition of the utility of the resource, conservation of the resource
through rational consumption and recycling, and public title of the
resource. IP addresses are no different in this regard.

IP addresses are recognized to be a public resource, and address management
policies should apply sound public resource management practices.

Current Address Management Structures

The current address management operation uses a structure of Regional
Internet Registeries (RIRs) to service the industry's needs within
a region of the globe.

Currently, there are three functioning RIRs:

- ARIN (American Registry for Internet Numbers) provides services to
the North and South American continents and central and southern

- RIPE NCC (RIPE Network Coordination Centre) provides service to
Europe, the Middle East and North Africa

- APNIC (Asia Pacific Network Information Center) provides services
to Asia and the Western Pacific region.

All three of these operations have a similar structure in that they operate
on a not-for-profit basis, they are structured as an industry membership body,
and develop operational policies using a self-regulatory framework. These
three bodies currently provide services to some 3,000 Internet industry

The observation to be drawn here is that the ASO is not being proposed
within an organizational vacuum - there is already a functional framework
which operates on self-regulatory principles that undertakes this task
across the globe.

Principles for an ASO

1. ASO activity relating to address management policy formulation
must encompass a number of diverse interested sectors.

In examining the criteria under which address management policies would
be developed within the framework of the ASO and ICANN, it is noted
that policy formulation in this area must bring together a number of
diverse sectors.

The Business and Internet Provider industry sector have a strong vested
interest in this activity, in that access to IP addresses underpins the
sector's activity base, and they have a strong interest in continued
access to address space as a precursor to any form of business undertaking.

There is a strong technology component required in this activity to ensure
that address management practices do not create pressures that would
fracture the operation of the Internet, or otherwise harm the Internet's
operational viability.

There is also a visible public policy component encompassing various
national policy sectors and other industry sectors. Any adopted address
management policy will have business, technology, economic and social
impacts. The assessment of the nature of the latter two categories of impact
would fall within this area of public sector interest.

2. Good policies are based on accurate data and thorough understanding.

ASO formulated policies should address matters of relevance, and do so in
a way that is intended to maximize the effectiveness of the ASO's role
within the address management framework.

For this to be undertaken it is recognized that the ASO responsibilities
should include the collection of data on address distribution, deployment
efficiency and related metrics pertaining to address distribution and
network impact. It is recognized that the data collection function may
be associated with some level of technical and economic research activities
directed towards meangingful interpretation of such metrics, and forecasting
the potential impacts of various ASO policy proposals.

3. Good Policies must be implementable

ASO policy formulation should be tested against the working model, prior
to adoption. This is intended to ensure that the ultimately adopted policies
are well understood not only in their intended outcome, but also in their
impacts on the existing address management functions and in their impacts
on the client base of the address management service operations.

While it is beyond the scope of this document to propose a testing
methodology, it is certainly recognized that the RIRs would have some
role in testing the operational viability of a proposed policy,
while businesses and business industry groups would have some
role in testing the business impacts, and technology groups would undertake
some activity in assessing the technology impacts of the policy.

The intended outcome of this testing is to ensure that ASO proposed policies
have a known and quantified impact if they are adopted and deployed.

4. The RIR structure has robust strengths that should be recognized.

The structure of a Regional Internet Registry servicing regional clients
in terms of address allocation functions forms a large component of the
current environment of Internet address management.

The RIRs have adopted an organizational structure that takes advantage
of an industry self-regulatory mode of operation, where the clients of
the RIR services have a major role in determining the mode operation of
the registry itself.

As a statement of principle the ASO policy formulation should be consistent
with, and further strengthen, this industry self-regulatory framework,
as a direction consistent with the general deregulation of the communications
industry world-wide.

5. Good Policy will take time.

It is not proposed that the ASO assume some of the responsibility for the
day-to-day operation of the address management framework. It is proposed
that the operational model should be managed through the self-regulatory
framework of the RIRs as being the most appropriate location to be
able to undertake this activity within the appropriate timeframes.

The role of the ASO is envisaged to be a body that formulates global,
longer term policy objectives, and as such should be able to carefully
consider the various policy objectives and technical, economic and
political perspectives that may impinge upon such objectives when
considering recommendation of a particular policy.

6. Open Processes are important.

It is a significant challenge to create an international self-regulatory
structure that considers and recommends policies relating to the global
Internet. Any recommended policy will need to strike a pragmatic
and sensible balance between consumer requirements, the requirements
of business and industry, the technology opportunities and inherant
limitations, and the various public policy positions that are adopted
on a national or international basis.

To strike such a balance the ASO should adopt an open process that invites
interested parties to participate in the process of formulation of
ASO policy recommendations. In achieving an opbective of rational
growth of the Intenet many perspectives exist, and should be considered
within the process of policy formulation.

Starting Points

It is envisaged that the ASO would be chartered with the responsibility
to formulate policy recommendations to ICANN concerning the management
and operation of the:

- Internet address space

- Internet inter-domain routing identifiers
(currently Autonomous System Numbers)

- that part of the "reverse DNS name space" derived from the above
two sets of identifiers.
(currently in-addr and

While the ASO could use the ICANN structure as a review body that brings
a broader sphere of perspectives to any proposed policy, it is considered
that this is an undue stress on the ICANN function, and that the real
objective of the ASO is to recommend to ICANN policies that do include
broad consideration from the various sectors of interest. For this reason
it is envisaged that the ASO would establish working liasions directly
with other ICANN bodies, and specifically this would include the
Government Advisory Committee, the Root Server System Advisory Committee,
and other supporting organisations.

The approach to ASO formation advocated within this document is to
learn from the experience of the formation of the DNSO and avoid
a premature step into document preparation of organizational charters
for the ASO. The approach advocated here is to gather visible consensus
to the broad principles for this organization as the most important
first step, and then move on from this into the preparation of
specifical proposals describing the ASO structure and mode of operation.

Accordingly we would like to invite constructive comments on this
statement of principles and on the basis of these comments and discussion
we are hopeful of being able to confirm a consensus set of principles
of ASO structure that will guide the next step of this activity.

Some may consider this to be a relatively slow process. On the other
hand the address infrastructure underpins the entire network, and
address management is simply too critical a matter to treat in haste
or to apply poorly considered policies that may require unravlling
in the future, and for this reason it is considered necessary to
apply the progressive steps with due diligence.


Comments on this document are welcome, and should be addressed to the ASO
discussion list in the first instance (aso-discuss@localhost)

All interested parties are also invited to participate in these discussions
via a subscription to this mailing list.