Site home page
(news and notices)

Get alerts when Linktionary is updated

Book updates and addendums

Get info about the Encyclopedia of Networking and Telecommunicatons, 3rd edition (2001)

Download the electronic version of the Encyclopedia of Networking, 2nd edition (1996). It's free!

Contribute to this site

Electronic licensing info



Internet Organizations and Committees
Expanded version: contains additional text not in the book

Related Entries    Web Links    New/Updated Information

Search Linktionary (powered by FreeFind)

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.

  • ISOC (Internet Society)    The ISOC is a nongovernmental international organization to promote global cooperation and coordination for the Internet, and its internetworking technologies and applications. The ISOC approves appointments to the IAB from nominees submitted by the IETF Nominating Committee. The ISOC Web site is at

  • IAB (Internet Architecture Board)    The IAB is a technical advisory group of the ISOC (Internet Society). Its responsibilities are to appoint a new IETF chair and IESG candidates, serve as an appeal board, manage editorial content and publication (RFCs), and provide services to the Internet Society. The IAB Web site is at

  • IESG (Internet Engineering Steering Group)    The IESG is chartered by ISOC to provide technical management of IETF activities and the Internet standards process. The IESG manages the IETF working groups and is directly responsible for the actions associated with entry into and movement along the Internet "standards track," including final approval of specifications as Internet standards. The IESG Web site is at

  • IRTF (Internet Research Task Force)    The purpose of the IRTF is to create research groups that focus on Internet protocols, applications, architecture, and technology. The groups are small and long term, and are put together to promote the development of research collaboration and teamwork in exploring research issues. Participation is by individual contributors rather than by representatives of organizations. The IRSG manages the research groups and holds workshops that focus on the evolution of the Internet and discuss research priorities from an Internet perspective. The IRTF Web site is at

  • IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force)    The IETF is a large open international community of network designers, operators, vendors, and researchers concerned with the evolution of the Internet architecture and the smooth operation of the Internet. The actual technical work of the IETF is done in its working groups, which include Applications, Internet, Network Management, Operational Requirements, Routing, Security, Transport, and User Services. Working groups are managed by members of the IESG. The IAB provides architectural oversight. The IETF also facilitates technology transfers from the IRTF to the wider Internet community. The IETF Web site is at

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 Address Supporting Organization (ASO)
  • The Domain Name Supporting Organization (DNSO)
  • The Protocol Supporting Organization (PSO)

The IANA and ICANN Web addresses are as follows:

IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority)

ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers)

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:

InterNIC Accredited Registrar Directory

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:

ARIN (American Registry for Internet Numbers)

RIPE NCC (Réseaux IP Européens Network Coordination Centre)

APNIC (Asia Pacific Network Information Centre)

Other Information

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:

W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) develops interoperable technologies (specifications, guidelines, software, and tools) for the Web.

NGI (Next Generation Internet) initiative is a multiagency federal research and development (R&D) program that is developing advanced networking technologies.

Next Generation Internet Forum.

Internet2, a consortium to develop and deploy tomorrow's Internet

NSF (National Science Foundation) covers computer and information sciences.

GIIC (Global Information Infrastructure Commission) promotes the development of a global information infrastructure.

CAIDA (Cooperative Association for Internet Data Analysis) provides tools to promote the engineering and maintenance of a robust, scalable global Internet infrastructure.

NLANR (National Laboratory for Applied Network Research) provides technical, engineering, and traffic analysis for the Internet.

USIIA (U.S. Internet Industry Association) is a North American trade association for Internet commerce, content, and connectivity.

CAIP (Canadian Association of Internet Providers)

CIX (Commercial Internet Exchange) supports Internet Service providers.

NANOG (North American Network Operators' Group) helps service providers coordinate their service to ensure network stability.

ISPC (Internet Service Providers' Consortium) provides a unified voice for the ISP industry.

NSRC (Network Startup Resource Center) is a nonprofit organization involved in deploying networking technology in various parts of the world.

The Web Standards Project persuades vendors to follow standards.

The following RFCs provide current or historical information about the organization of the Internet and its committees:

  • RFC 1160 (The Internet Activities Board, May 1990)
  • RFC 1640 (The Process for Organization of Internet Standards Working Group, June 1994)
  • RFC 1690 (Introducing the Internet Engineering and Planning Group, August 1994)
  • RFC 1718 (The Tao of IETF - A Guide for New Attendees of the Internet Engineering Task Force, November 1994)
  • RFC 2014 (IRTF Research Group Guidelines and Procedures, October 1996)
  • RFC 2026 (The Internet Standards Process - Revision, October 1996)
  • RFC 2028 (The Organizations Involved in the IETF Standards Process, October 1996)
  • RFC 2031 (IETF-ISOC Relationship, October 1996)
  • RFC 2134 (Articles of Incorporation of Internet Society, April 1997)
  • RFC 2135 (Internet Society By-Laws, April 1997)
  • RFC 2282 (IAB and IESG Selection, Confirmation, and Recall Process: Operation of the Nominating and Recall Committees, February 1998)
  • RFC 2418 (IETF Working Group Guidelines and Procedures, September 1998)
  • RFC 2468 (I REMEMBER IANA by Vint Cerf, October 1998)
  • RFC 2727 (IAB and IESG Selection, Confirmation, and Recall Process: Operation of the Nominating and Recall Committees, February 2000)
  • RFC 2850 (Charter of the Internet Architecture Board, May 2000)
  • RFC 2860 (Memorandum of Understanding Concerning the Technical Work of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, June 2000)

Copyright (c) 2001 Tom Sheldon and Big Sur Multimedia.
All rights reserved under Pan American and International copyright conventions.