The National Science Foundation (NSF) announced today an action that moves the Internet toward privatization. Internet Protocol number assignments will soon be handled by a non-profit organization.
The NSF has approved a plan from Network Solutions, Inc. (NSI) which establishes the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN). Under the plan, ARIN would assume full responsibility for Internet Protocol (IP) number assignments and related administrative tasks previously handled by NSI. The shift, expected to be fully implemented before March 1998, separates the assignment of Internet numbers (addresses) used for Internet routing from domain name registration activities (which will continue to be handled by Network Solutions). The move will affect only a relatively small number of Internet service providers and very large institutional users -- around 300 last year -- who obtain their IP assignments directly from NSI. Most Internet users will be unaffected by the change and most Internet service providers will continue to obtain their IP assignments from their providers.
The creation of ARIN is consistent with the recommendations received from the Internet community at workshops over the past eighteen months, and with concurrence from a federal interagency working group.
"This move is another step by the federal government in the continuing privatization and commercialization of the Internet," said George Strawn, director of the Networking and Communications Research and Infrastructure division at NSF. "The Internet is no longer in its infancy. It is growing up into a commercially based, self-regulating entity. NSI should be lauded for aiding this transition."
The establishment of ARIN is important for the continued growth and the global stability of the Internet, Strawn said. ARIN is patterned after the successful RIPENIC and APNIC registration activities in Europe and Asia. Regional registries are also being created by providers in Latin America and Africa to assume responsibility for IP number assignment in those areas. It is anticipated that before long, a global council of the regional registries may work together to determine consistent and equitable global policies for IP allocation and management.
The creation of ARIN will not change any current policies or procedures for obtaining Internet numbers. Creation of ARIN will give the users of IP numbers (mostly Internet service providers, corporations and other large institutions) a voice in the policies by which they are managed and allocated within the North American region.
ARIN is intended to provide Internet service providers in North America an opportunity to help develop Internet management policies within the region and, through ARIN's collaboration with other regional registries, globally.