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Internet Organizations and Committees
Note: Many topics at this site are reduced versions of the text in "The Encyclopedia of Networking and Telecommunications." Search results will not be as extensive as a search of the book's CD-ROM.
The Internet is a collection of autonomous and interconnected networks that implement open protocols and standards. No person, government, or entity owns or controls the Internet. Instead, a volunteer organization called ISOC (Internet Society) controls the future of the Internet. It appoints a technical advisory group called the IAB (Internet Architecture Board) to evaluate and set standards.
Input on protocols and standards can come from anybody-individuals, research groups, companies, and universities. A specification is submitted as an Internet draft and made available for review and comments. The Internet organizations evaluate whether these specifications should be advanced through a process that elevates the specification to different levels of maturity until it potentially reaches a standards status. The process is described under "Internet Standards."
The organizations and committees that oversee the Internet are charted in Figure I-7. These organizations are described next. In general, the IETF forms working groups to develop specifications, which are evaluated by the IESG in conjunction with the IAB (Internet Architecture Board). The Internet Society then publicizes the new standards. Web standards are promulgated by the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) and other groups.
IP Address Allocation and Domain Registration Services
Historically, an Internet organization called IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority) was chartered by ISOC to coordinate the assignment of Internet "identifiers" such as domain names, autonomous system numbers, IP address numbers, protocol numbers, and port numbers.
In the early 1990s, IANA coordinated the establishment of the InterNIC (Internet Network Information Center) with funding from the NSF (National Science Foundation). The InterNIC took responsibility for managing the top-level Internet domain names (.com, .org, .net, and so on) and the other Internet identifiers. InterNIC was a collaborative project of AT&T, General Atomics, and NSI (Network Solutions, Inc.). RFC 1400 (Transition and Modernization of the Internet Registration Service, March 1993) describes the services offered by the InterNIC. AT&T managed the InterNIC Directory and Database Services project, NSI managed the Registration Services project (domain registration and IP address allocation), and General Atomics managed the Information Services project, which was dropped from funding in 1995.
By the late 1990s, IANA and the U.S. government felt that the registration services, address allocations, and other functions should be handled by private-sector authorities. In October of 1998, a broad coalition of the Internet's business, technical, academic, and user communities created a nonprofit corporation called ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) and gave it responsibility for the functions previously managed by IANA. ICANN also coordinates the Internet's root server system and is dedicated to preserving the operational stability of the Internet.
ICANN is officially defined as follows:
A non-profit, international corporation that was formed in September 1998 to take over global responsibility for Internet Protocol (IP) address space allocation, protocol parameter assignment, Domain Name System (DNS) management, and root server system management functions. These services were previously performed under U.S. Government contract by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) and other entities. IANA is now a part of ICANN. Among its duties, ICANN distributes IP address space, and delegates responsibility for further allocation of IP addresses to the Regional Internet Registries (RIRs): ARIN, RIPE, and APNIC. ICANN is also supporting the efforts to form two new RIRs: one in Africa (AFRINIC) and one in the Latin American/Caribbean geographical region (LACNIC). The ICANN has formally recognized three Supporting Organizations tasked with developing and recommending to the ICANN Board substantive policies regarding matters within their subject areas. The Supporting Organizations also each select three Directors to be named to the ICANN Board. The three Supporting Organizations include:
The IANA and ICANN Web addresses are as follows:
With the formation of ICANN, NSI lost the registration services monopoly it had with InterNIC. The for-profit company is now one of many organizations that register domain names. The InterNIC as it was established in 1993 is no longer in service. However, the site still has valuable information, such as a list of registrars. Since the word "InterNIC" is a registered service mark of the U.S. Department of Commerce, NSI no longer uses the name.
Domain name registration may be accomplished through a number of organizations, including NSI. The following Web site provides a directory of accredited registrars:
While ICANN is responsible for IP address allocation policies, the actual management of IP address space is handled by registries. IP addresses are distributed in a hierarchical manner. At the top of the hierarchy is IANA, which allocates blocks of IP addresses to regional Internet registries (RIRs). The regional registries then further allocate blocks of IP addresses to local Internet registries within their geographic regions. Finally, the local registries assign addresses to end users. There are currently three RIRs:
Many organizations are involved in the development of telecommunications and information technology standards. In many cases, these organizations share work with the Internet organizations mentioned earlier. In particular, organizations such as the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers), the ATM Forum, the ISO (International Organization for Standardization), and the ITU (International Telecommunication Union) create standards that are closely linked to Internet standards. See "Standards Groups, Associations, and Organizations" for a complete list of related organizations and their Web addresses.
Organizations that are specifically involved in Internet issues are listed below:
The following RFCs provide current or historical information about the organization of the Internet and its committees:
Copyright (c) 2001 Tom Sheldon and Big Sur Multimedia.