The following text is copyright 1997 by Network World, permission is hearby given for reproduction, as long as attribution is given and this notice is included.
Do we have your number?
For the past few years the InterNIC has been administrating and registering IP addresses for North America, South America, South Africa and the Caribbean. Other registries perform the same IP address management functions for Europe (RIPE) and the Asia-Pacific region (APNIC). Additional registries may be formed in the future to provide more local support in Africa and South America.
The InterNIC got its authority to assign IP addresses from the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) in conjunction with a cooperative agreement between the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Network Solutions which provides the InerNIC function. This is the same InterNIC that has been registering domain names for the past few years. Initially NSF provided funding to Network Solutions to support the domain name and IP address services. This was migrated to a fee-for-service model for domain name registration in which a fee that averages $50 per year has been charged per domain name. The revenues from this fee has been used to also support the IP administration services.
A new membership organization, the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) (http://www.arin.net), has now been proposed to take over these IP address administration services from the InterNIC. ARIN would be a non-profit corporation with a volunteer board of trustees and an advisory council selected from the membership. Although the initial board and advisory council members would be selected by those proposing the organization, future members would be selected in some yet to be determined way which would include direct input from the ARIN membership.
ARIN would charge membership and administration fees to cover the costs of its operation. The size of the administration fee is based on the size of an ISP's address allocation because that is a generally reliable way to predict the level of services that the ISP will require from ARIN. Since ARIN would be a non-profit corporation the amount of the fees would be adjusted so that the revenue matches the expenses while maintaining a small cushion for emergencies. These fees would mostly fall on the larger Internet service providers (ISPs) since they are the ones who request allocations directly from the registries. The cost to end user organizations, who normally get their addresses from their local ISP would be only a few dollars per year, generally less than $10.
ARIN, like all of the IP address registries, would not "sell" IP addresses. It would follow the guidelines in RFC 2050 to ensure that the IP version 4 address space is carefully administered and assigned in ways that minimize the growth in the size of the tables in the Internet backbone routers. ARIN would also operate the nameservers that support the "reverse lookup" function whereby an IP address can be turned into the name of the computer to which it is assigned.
There have been some scare stories propagating around the 'Net about ARIN, mostly saying that small ISP will be forced out of business because of excessive charges. These stories wildly exaggerate the effect of the ARIN proposal, which for small ISPs would be on the same order as those for end user organizations.
ARIN is an effort to create an independent organization that can maintain impartiality in the allocation and conservation of IP addresses while ensuring that IP address allocation and management are collectively handled by the users of the IPv4 address space.
disclaimer: Harvard is not in the business of assigning numbers (it uses letter grades) so the above are my opinions but it should be noted that I've been asked to be an initial ARIN board member.