IGF 2023 WS #524 How to defrag the Internet infrastructure?


Avoiding Internet Fragmentation
Technical challenges of Internet fragmentation

Organizer 1: Tiago Jun Nakamura Nakamura, πŸ”’
Organizer 2: Eduardo Barasal Morales, πŸ”’NIC.br
Organizer 3: Merike Kaeo, πŸ”’
Organizer 4: Tuany Tabosa, πŸ”’
Organizer 5: Antonio Marcos Moreiras, πŸ”’
Organizer 6: Hartmut Richard Glaser, πŸ”’
Organizer 7: Nathalia Sautchuk Patricio, πŸ”’HKA

Speaker 1: Nathalia Sautchuk Patricio, Technical Community, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 2: Antonio Marcos Moreiras, Technical Community, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 3: Merike Kaeo, Technical Community, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 4: Olatunde Awobuluyi, Technical Community, African Group


Eduardo Barasal Morales, Technical Community, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)

Online Moderator

Tiago Jun Nakamura Nakamura, Technical Community, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)


Tuany Tabosa, Technical Community, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)


Round Table - 60 Min

Policy Question(s)

The discussion in the proposed session will be facilitated around three policy questions posed for the participants in the round-table as well as the audience in general: A. How can the Internet's ecosystem be technically, politically and economically prepared to receive structural changes in the Internet's infrastructure without causing Internet fragmentation? B. Given the decentralized infrastructure model of the Internet, is there a way to implement critical changes without causing the splinternet? C. How are national and international laws applied in Autonomous Systems in the context of technical Internet fragmentation?

What will participants gain from attending this session? The purpose of this session is to raise awareness both in an international and collaborative environment. Although it is extremely widespread that all Autonomous Systems should adopt the most modern standards, protocols, and security measures, in their networks, it is rarely discussed how to convince everyone to get involved in deploying structural changes in the Internet's infrastructure. Every multistakeholder carries out a relevant role in the future of the Internet's infrastructure. The participants and attendees, in addition to acquiring knowledge in the session with the debate, are expected to be able to contribute by presenting their perspectives and solutions to the exposed problem. In conclusion, It is also expected that after all the discussions presented at this workshop, this will increase the concern about the theme and help to engage more people in the adoption of new standards, protocols and security measures.



The splinternet is frequently referred to as Internet fragmentation due to multiple reasons. According to ICANN's definition of Internet Fragmentation, there are three possible forms of fragmentation: Technical, Governmental and Commercial. In this proposal, we will discuss a Technical Internet Fragmentation Issue. From its creation to the present day, the Internet works in a decentralized way. Currently, its infrastructure is composed of approximately 100.000 independent networks (government, academia, enterprise, provider and others) that connect and exchange Internet traffic among themselves. Each of these networks is considered an Autonomous System (AS). Each AS has the authority and autonomy to build its own network infrastructure and decide how it will communicate with other ASes. While a decentralized network has aided the growth of the Internet by allowing any institution to build its own network, it also made it challenging to manage adjustments and upgrades within this model. For example, deploying structural changes in the Internet's infrastructure such as replacing protocols, adopting new standards, implementing security measures, among others is incredibly difficult to accomplish. The technical challenges of making adjustments to the Internet model are numerous, because in order for a change in the internet's infrastructure to be deployed effectively, it requires that all AS adopt it. If any of the Internet's AS don't adopt it the Internet will fragment, leaving these AS isolated from the rest. To exemplify this, the following scenario can be analyzed: IPv6 was developed to replace IPv4 on the Internet. However, this migration of protocols isn't a trivial task, because by design decision, one is incompatible with the other. 25 years have passed and IPv6 adoption remains low while IPv4 addresses have been exhausted. A situation that can lead to Internet fragmentation, due to the emergence of IPv4-only and IPv6-only islands that do not communicate with each other.

Expected Outcomes

Currently there are some global multistakeholder entities that aim to raise awareness of some of the issues that cause the splinternet discussed in this workshop such as Internet Society (ISOC) and ICANN. Some of those initiatives have been very successful in raising awareness of Internet fragmentation such as MANRS, KINDNS, World IPv6 Launch, DNS root KSK rollover. The main expected outcome for this session would be for the audience to have a better understanding of Internet infrastructure and the awareness of Internet fragmentation. With this outcome, it is possible to enable a Multi Stakeholder approach for avoiding further Internet fragmentation such as Hubs, discussion groups and follow-up events at IGF in the next few years.

Hybrid Format: The discussion will be facilitated by the onsite moderator who will use a quiz platform, called Slido, to present the policy questions that will be debated by the panelists and the audience. We used this platform at IGF 2021, and we had great results in boosting audience interaction. The online moderator will make sure the remote participants are represented in the debate. Online participation and interaction will rely on the IGF online platform (Zoom). Those joining the session using Zoom (either invited members of the debate or the general audience) will be granted the floor in each segment of the workshop. People in charge of the moderation will strive to entertain onsite and remote participation indiscriminately. Lastly, having two moderators will facilitate the control of time, which will be very important for the proper functioning of the workshop.