10 July 2005

Joint NRO / GAC Roundtable on IP Addressing

The NRO and the GAC held a roundtable meeting on IP Addressing on July 10th 2005.

The meeting was held at the Luxemburg International Fair and Conference Centre in co-operation with the ICANN GAC (Governmental Advisory Committee).

The focus of the discussions was the Internet governance and management, with particular emphasis on issues of relevance to governments and regulators such as:

  • IPv4 and IPv6 address policies
  • Internet routing
  • Competitive addressing registries

Agenda

Sunday, 10 July 2005
JOINT NRO / GAC ROUNDTABLE MEETING on IP ADDRESSING
Co-chairs: Masahiko Fujimoto, GAC. Hans Petter Holen, ASO AC.
Rapporteur: Rob Blokzijl, RIPE
10:00 Registration and Welcome Coffee
10:15 Internet Routing – How it Works Ray Plzak, ARIN
10:25 IPv4 & IPv6 Address Assignment Policies and Their Constraints Rob Blokzijl, RIPE
10:35 Discussion: IPv6 and Routing Pankaj Agrawala, Ministry of Communication and Information technology, India
10:45 IPv6 Address Distribution Mechanisms Geoff Huston, Paul Wilson, APNIC
10:55 IPv6 and Innovation Jordi Palet, Consulintel
11:05 Discussion: IPv6 and Routing Milton Mueller, University of Syracuse, USA
11:15 Q & A and Discussion
11:30 Conclusions Co-Chairs and Rapporteur
11:45 Meeting Ends

Presentations

IPv6 Address Distribution Mechanisms Geoff Huston, Paul Wilson, APNIC
IPv6 is an Innovation Opportunity Jordi Palet, Consulintel
Internet Routing – How it Works Ray Plzak, ARIN

Summary

Rapporteur: Rob Blokzijl, RIPE Chair

Agenda:

1. Internet Routing – How it Works Ray Plzak, ARIN

2. IPv4 & IPv6 Address and Assignment Policies and their Constraints Rob Blokzijl, RIPE

3. Discussion: IPv6 and Routing Pankaj Agrawala, Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, India

4. IPv6 Address Distribution Mechanisms Geoff Huston, Paul Wilson, APNIC

5. IPv6 and Innovation Jordi Palet, Consulintel

6. Discussion: IPv6 and Routing Milton Mueller, University of Syracuse, USA

7. Q&A and Discussion

This report highlights the points the speakers considered as the core messages they wanted to convey. The agenda was rather packed which did not leave much time for questions and discussions.

1. Internet Routing – How it Works

Ray Plzak gave a short, but extensive, overview of how the routing system on the Internet works, both for IPv4 and IPv6. It was emphasised that routing is based on IP addresses. Domain names do not play a role in transporting data over the Internet. It was also made clear that routing is performed by Internet Service Providers (ISPs). End Users are generally not involved in routing.

Routing policies are defined by individual ISPs determining how they interact with their nearest neighbours. Since there are tens of thousands of ISPs that make up the global Internet, one can imagine that the resulting routing system is not trivial, to say the least.

2. IPv4 & IPv6 Address Assignment Policies and Their Constraints

Rob Blokzijl explained that the two most important constraints for IP address assignment policies are the conservation of address space and the aggregation of routing information. Aggregation can be understood as conservation of routing space. Routing equipment can only accomodate so much routing information. This is a technical fact, not policy.

These two conservation constraints result in two opposing requirements for the size of IP address block assignments. Address conservation is best served by small blocks, whereas routing conservation is best served by larger blocks. It is the responsibility of the ISPs to find a compromise that best serves the operation of the Internet. This compromise is what we call policy.

Rob Blokzijl also explained that the address policies of the Internet have changed over time. Basically two policies are in place today: one for the Internet up until the early ’90s, and one for the Internet after that time.

These two different policies have to be supported by all ISPs. This is a burden that has to be accepted. However, most ISPs are not particularly pleased with current proposals to introduce numerous new policies outside the current system of industry self-regulation.

3. Discussion: IPv6 and Routing

Pankaj Agrawala posed two questions as input for a discussion that unfortunately did not take place due to time constraints.

The first question dealt with the problem of whether under the current IPv6 policies large, incumbent, ISPs are favoured in the allocation of IPv6 address space.

The second question concerned the problem of local connections between ISPs, where large players refuse to connect to smaller players. This seriously hinders the development of a local Internet industry.

[Rapporteurs note: these issues certainly merit some time for explanation and discussion. The first one is more a matter of perception than an actual fact. The second one is usually related to a near monopoly position of a large incumbent player. Here a national government could play a regulatory role.]

4. IPv6 Address Distribution Mechanisms

Geoff Huston started by stating that the Internet, and IPv6, is not an experiment. There is a huge expectation and a big vision: It is an investment platform for trillions of dollars over the next decades. It will be the communications infrastructure for many generations to come.

Networking is not a game of chance, packets need to go where they are meant to go. The routing system must work! Networking has to be simple, cheap, stable and scalable. And routability is an essential part of that.

It is not magic, it is constrained by mathematical restrictions.

There are a number of risks that could make that system fail. There are a number of alternative distribution models being proposed currently e.g. national distribution channels. These alternative models are based on either political grounds or on some notions of introducing competion in policies.

What is not clear in all of these proposals is how they could be implemented, or how they would affect the routing system. One should remember that the current policies are the result of many years of industry self-regulation.

- Discussion:

The question was raised as to whether a market would be developed in address space.

The speaker explained that that was highly improbable, especially in IPv6. New requests for address space are satisfied by inserting new address blocks into the system.

Another question was raised concerning the possibility of retrieving unused address space for future assignments.

It was explained that address retrieval is both very complicated and costly. Within the current system, the problem is studied from time to time, but so far no real incentive has been found.

Some substantial address retrieval has been done in the address space that was handed out in the early days of the Internet. A substantial amount of IPv4 address space has been returned to the central IANA pool this way.

5. IPv6 is an Innovation Opportunity

Jordi Palet gave an overview of new applications that were especially
suited to run over IPv6. Most came in the realm of end-to-end
applications. These applications are made easier by the fact that the
increased address space of IPv6 does away with the need to hide
end-user equipment behind address translation equipment.

As an illustration of new applications, Jordi Palet showed how he could control
the blinds in his house in Barcelona, scaring his cat by doing so.

6. Discussion: IPv6 and Routing

Milton Mueller introduced a proposal to create an alternative system for the assignment of IPv6 address space. He explained that the current system of industry self-regulation as represented by the Regional Internet Registries has worked quite well so far, and is inherently robust.

However, he advocated that it might be worthwhile to create a number of alternative mechanisms with the aim to see whether this would result in additional address policies.

- Discussion:

Participants raised the question of how such alternative policies would be implemented in the current routing system, and what the potential risks to the system would be.

The speaker replied that he had no answer to both questions and that the technological constraints would have to be investigated.

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