ICANN CEO questioned over IP address monopoly

At the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Egypt, Malaysian National Advanced IPv6 Centre (NAv6) delegate raises monopoly issue

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has been questioned over its perceived monopoly of IP address space for the IPv6 protocol.

At the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Egypt, Dr Sureswaran Ramadass of the Malaysian National Advanced IPv6 Centre (NAv6)asked ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom whether there should be other bodies involved in allocating IP numbers aside from ICANN and the 5 Regional Internet Registries (RIRs).

“Why can’t we have additional organisations handing it [IPv6 address space] out?” he asked.

Beckstrom's reply was less than expansive.

“You get what you need, so what’s the issue?” he responded.

He later added, “Let me make clear: Even though you’re getting what you want, you want a different political body. I just want to say, you have a political issue, you do not have a personal issue."

However, Dr Ramadass then pointed to the moves in many regions away from monopoly structures with several telecommunication providers and ISPS operating within one country to improve competition and performance.

"That same reason is why there shouldn’t just be one RIR giving out IPv6 addresses,” he said.

An additional question from Ramadass about whether he could access an RIR other than the one overseeing his region for address space was not answered in the public session.

When told by Beckstrom that he was getting them for free, however, Ramadass said, “But I’m not getting them for free; that’s the whole point. I’m paying for it.”

The provision of address space by ICANN and the 5 RIRs is, according to policy, based on the idea that these resources are not ‘owned’ by anyone one group, but are instead licensed as a public resource.

The Asia Pacific RIR, APNIC, says on its website that “APNIC charges an administration fee to assist in the management of this resource and the provision of services it provides the community.”

After the debate at the Forum, a delegate from a Ghanaian operator, Dr Nii Quaynor, said he was satisfied with the current arrangements for address provision.

“I am extremely pleased with the opportunity Africa has to participate in making its own policies regarding address assignments for its operators,” he said

“We like the fact that it’s an open process, and we can all participate collectively in a multi-stakeholder environment to achieve that, and we believe that any form of change that takes that opportunity away from Africa is not in the interests of Africa, therefore not in the interests of developing countries."

“We’d like to all participate together to make policies which are localised that benefit all of us in the development of a single internet, not multiple internets,” he finished to applause from the floor.

The Forum concludes on Thursday.

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