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Workshop Report 2009
Need-based and market-based Internet resource allocation
Workshop description and list of panelists:
The impending scarcity of IPv4 Internet addresses creates new challenges in address policy. Historically, Regional Internet Registries have relied on need-based resource allocation mechanisms, which have allowed the Internet to experience its unprecedented growth to date. But some economists have suggested that market-based allocation mechanisms can help manage the newly emerging scarcity. Each of the five registries is evaluating these questions, along with further complexity resulting from the matter of inter-regional transfer. This session presented a variety of perspectives, including participants from each of the five regions.
The session was moderated by Steve Ryan a senior partner and head of the Government Strategies Practice Group in the law firm of McDermott Will & Emery. He served as General Counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs and Deputy Counsel of the President’s Commission on Organized Crime, as well as Assistant U.S. Attorney in Washington, D.C. Steve is a noted expert on the legal ramifications of Internet number resource allocation policies.
The other speakers were:
John Curran, President and CEO of ARIN. He was formerly the founding Chairman of the Board of ARIN. Mr. Curran was previously CTO and COO for ServerVault, CTO for XO Communications, and CTO for BBN/GTE Internetworking. He has co-chaired the IETF Operations and Network Management Area and served as a member of the IPng (IPv6) Directorate.
Paul Wilson, Director General of APNIC.
Milton Mueller, Professor at the Syracuse University School of Information Studies and Delft University of Technology, Netherlands.
Tom Vest, consultant with the OECD Economics & Statistics Division, ICANN, and the RIPE NCC Science Group, previously Research Program Manager for Packet Clearing House and head of AOL's Asia-Pacific operations.
Bill Woodcock, Research Director at Packet Clearing House, a non-profit which has supported the operators and regulators of critical Internet infrastructure globally since 1994.
The actors involved in the field; various initiatives that people can connect with, and contacts for further information:
This workshop represented each of the major points of view in this critical discussion, and exposed the audience to all of the principal arguments under debate. The participants gave their contact information and welcomed all attendees to ask them further questions or follow up in greater detail on issues of interest throughout the remainder of the week, and in the future.
John Curran: firstname.lastname@example.org
Paul Wilson: email@example.com
Milton Mueller: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tom Vest: email@example.com
Bill Woodcock: firstname.lastname@example.org
All five speakers' slides can be found in a single deck at:
A brief substantive summary and the main issues that were identified:
Steve Ryan began the session by outlining the issues and introducing the speakers.
John Curran gave the first talk, explaining the system by which IPv4 and IPv6 addresses are currently allocated through the delegation hierarchy of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority and the Regional Internet Registries; the community governance mechanism by which equitable access to resources is assured, and the regulatory principles that ensure conservation.
Paul Wilson continued, speaking on the issue of IPv4 address scarcity, and the mechanisms whereby unused addresses may be transferred to other parties who can justify a greater need.
Milton Mueller went on to cast the scarcity of IPv4 addresses in a neoclassical economic framework, describing a range of possible future in which economic speculation might predominate over operational utilization of addresses, or an increasingly finely-granular transfer market might value individual use over the integrity of the routing system as a whole.
Tom Vest spoke about the applicability and inapplicability of economic markets to IP addresses and other scarce public resources, and discussed the regulatory oversight required when market mechanisms are applied to public goods.
Bill Woodcock concluded by outlining the dangers of failure to uphold the balanced duties of access and conservation of both addresses and the routing tables which ensure Internet stability and functionality. He explained several of the fundamental incompatibilities between the very complex nature of IP addresses allocation and the insufficiently nuanced hammer of a monetized market, and described the disproportionately catastrophic effects such monetization would have on the developing world, exaggerating the digital divide.
Conclusions and further comments:
This workshop successfully raised and addressed a critical issue of great topical importance, and provided a forum for all points of view on the topic.
...End of Report...
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