A Practical Navigator for the Internet Economy

Domain Name System Under Stress, IAHC Position Weak pp. 1- 6, 24

With the completion of the International Internet Ad Hoc Committee final report calling for a Council of Registrars and the creation of a shared database system for up to 28 Registrars of Domain Names the 18 month old dispute kicked off by Network Solutions' beginning to charge for Domain Names in September 1995 is coming to a head.

We present a detailed history of the solicitation leading to the InterNic award. We examine the role of NSF from the start of the award in April 1993 to the present and conclude that its actions were reasonable and proper. Using a network of sources we describe the current positions of NSI, IAHC and the Alternic "glitterati" - the last of which we conclude are not serious players. While we are not sympathetic to NSI's plans to capitalize on their good fortune with an IPO, we find no reason to condemn their stewardship over the .com, .org., and .edu domains.

While we think the goals set by the IAHC are worthy of support, we believe that they face very difficult odds that may scuttle their effort. While the seven new top level domains that they are supporting will increase the range of choices for Internet users, the IAHC faces a very difficult task of legal, financial, technical and organizational hurdles in implementing them.

In evaluating at IAHC's chances of success one must ask two things. Where are we to assume that it will get the considerable sum of money required to build its infrastructure and make it work in a very short period of time? Second who will register what domains and how quickly will the data from the new Registrars', IAHC- sponsored, seven top level domains start being added to the data bases of the root DNS servers? The IAHC side has indicated that it would like NSI to join CORE and add .com to the domains registered by the CORE Registrars.

As soon as the IAHC CORE system has an operational shared database, we'd like to see NSI join and do just this. However when one looks at the stark reality that NSI would have to give up control over its pre-eminent cash cow in order to do so, we think it very unlikely that this will occur in the short term. After all the shared database system has to be built first and it is not clear where the sponsors are going to find the money necessary to do so. If they do succeed in building a working system that gains acceptance, IANA and community pressure could force some changes. The biggest immediate question is how the entire system will weather a legal challenge.

For IAHC will be lucky to escape being sued and if it is sued, there is one very weak link in the whole process: The authority chain. In other words the IANA - Jon Postel. The IANA's authority endorsing it is what gives NSI's registry value. The operators of the root DNS servers are willing to accept Postel's recommendations as authoritative. They carry the registry database(s) that Postel asks them to.

But what if a court were ever effectively to say to NSI: the authority of the IANA is in dispute and/ or no longer valid? Therefore you may no longer use the IANA as your authority in asking the root servers to carry your database. Or perhaps more likely were a court to say to the operators of the root servers: you may no longer restrain trade by accepting only data that the IANA deems authoritative?

In a worst case scenario, you then might then find multiple groups with databases of questionable quality insisting that they be added to the root servers. If the databases conflict and the system falls apart, too bad. This probably won't happen. But it could. Being fully aware of the dangers may be the best way for all parties to avoid disaster.

Noel Chiappa on the Scaling Problems of Current Routing Technology, pp. 7-15

In a long interview Noel analyzes the problems of the current technology with its premiums on routing gurus. The more routers there are in the defaultless core of the net, the longer a flap takes to stabilize. However the growing number of routers increases the likelihood that some router somewhere will flap more and more often. This problem presents curves that, undisturbed, will intersect. Of course they cannot be allowed to do so because at such a point the net would crash. To ensure that they do not intersect, Noel believes that, either aggregation must be more rigorously applied, or new routing technology developed to replace BGP4. He explains why the new technology approach will be very time consuming and therefore difficult. (As we prepared to publish this discussion, it seems to us that route dampening might be a third option.)

In any case for those who have never had to use a router, we believe that the discussion is an extremely informative guide to the ways that routing technology may be applied to today's network.

Curtis Villamizar on the Difficulty of Aggregation, p.16

In a response to a journalist's query about Cisco withdrawals of routing information, Curtis explains the difficulty involved in large scale aggregation and efforts to deal most effectively with route flaps. The document comes from a Merit web page and is used with his permission.

Tony Bates Explains the CIDR Report pp. 17 - 20

After an interruption of several months, Tony Bates restarted his weekly CIDR report last fall. The report serves as a tool that is useful in showing which ISPs are implementing CIDR aggregation extensively and which are not. He notes that after four years of "CIDRization" of 40,000 routes announced only 10,000 are CIDR aggregates. He suggests that with reasonable effort 10,000 routes could be cut from the total announced to the defaultless core. He describes how the report serves as a useful tool to identify inadvertent leakage of routes. Such leaks are significant. When they occur, they often are in the 500 to 1500 route range. He suggests that routers will soon be capable of handling up to 250,000 routes. Implied is that for the routes of the defaultless core to continue to grow significantly, routers in the core will continue to grow in number and dampening will have to be increasingly used to avoid having the net taken down by ever more frequent router flaps.

LEC Charging Policy Questioned pp. 21 - 22

Jack Buchanan of U. of Tenn. Memphis questions local loop pricing policies that would appear to make digital circuits that are less costly to provision and have less impact on local Central Offices than analog POTs equipment. Jack also offers useful insight into the fallacies of the universal service provisions in the 1996 Telecom Reform Act.