NAIPR Message

Short Form 1040/19 EZ

On Sat, 22 Feb 1997, Jim Fleming wrote:

> Why does ARIN need to be able to advertise on the
> U.S. Government's InterNIC web site ? Other companies
> are not allowed to advertise there....

> If Disney wants to build a theme park they obtain land
> and do it. They do not expect the U.S. Government to
> deed over Yellowstone to make sure they succeed.

We had a situation here in British Columbia a few years back when the
Social Credit government decided to privatize highway maintenance. The
Social Credit party was somewhat further right on the political spectrum
than the U.S. Republican party and some of you may be aware of the fact
that Vancouver, B.C. is the home of a right wing think tank named the
Fraser Institute. So basically we have a strongly free-market party that
has decided to privatize an essential government service. Highways in B.C. 
require more maintenance than in less mountainous areas due to the large
amount of snowfall and the common occurence of rocks falling on the roads
even though they do attempt to stop rockslides before they occur.

How did they proceed? Did they just stop maintaining the roads, fire the
employees, sell the equipment and then put it up for bids? NO! 

They encouraged employees in the various regions to band together, seek
financing, buy the existing equipment at fair market value and then bid on
contracts. All the infrastructure that was in place was carefully
transferred into private hands. Once the contracts were announced there
were some strange situations where the contract for the Central Okanagan
was won by the company in the North Okanagan and the Central Okanagan
company won a contract in the Kootenays. But such is life. The companies
made some deals trading their equipment yards and reshuffled things.
Winter came, the roads got plowed, the rocks got scaled (scraped off
the cliffs beside the highway) there were a few complaints, eventually
some companies bought out others, and the service was more or less
continued with no disruption.

This is a model for privatization that has played out in various other
places in the world and it is no surprise to me that ARIN will come
into existence in much the same way. An essential service is provided by
the Internic's IP allocation department and the service must be
transferred to industry oversight with a minimum of disruption.

Please do not misinterpret my use of the Social Credit example above to
imply that I think there is a right wing political agenda at play here.
I don't believe there is and I think that even people with a
middle-of-the-road political agenda or a socialist political agenda
would rather not see governments in the USA concern themselves with
regulating the Internet when there are far more serious social issues
that should be getting government attention. Governments have limited
resources and it makes no sense for them to rob Peter to pay Paul, when 
Paul is the wealthy and rapidly growing Internet industry that has
expressed a willingness to fairly and openly regulate itself.

If you were to compare the Internet industry self-regulation efforts to
self-regulation in the medical or legal profession, I think you will see
that the Internet industry operates more fairly and more openly than
either. Cooperation is second nature to people involved in the Internet
because without cooperation and a willingness to communicate fairly with
others in the industry, you simply cannot build an internetwork. This
includes the fact that most larger companies in the Internet industry are
willing to nurture and support their smaller competitors because these
same companies are usually their largest customers. This fact of life
is the main reason why I do not expect ARIN to have any negative impact
on small ISP's at all.

This doesn't mean that IP allocation policies don't cause some problems
for small ISP's but those are global problems, not just specific to this
region or to ARIN. And solutions to those problems are more likely to come
about once we have settled the transition of North America's IP allocation
services to ARIN because then we have three regional bodies (ARIN, RIPE,
APNIC) who are responsible to their ISP members and who must act fairly
and must be seen to act fairly.

In addition, those who claim that small ISP's can only find relief by
changing the IP allocation policies are rather short-sighted. There are
free market solutions to their problems that do not require any
involvement from ARIN and that do not require any change to policies.
The most notable solution is for the small ISP to build a redundant
infrastructure with multiple connections to a single upstream provider who
provisions their network so that no single-point failures will impact the
downstream ISP. This is something that can be done today and some
regionals providers already supply their downstream ISP customers with
such a service. If it became more widely known that there was a demand for
this service then more regional providers would offer the service. 

Also, please not that even if an ISP does receive portable address space
from ARIN and multihomes to two of the large backbone providers, they are
not necessarily guaranteed immunity from single point failures. There is
one case in which the telco put both T1's through the same fibre bundle
under a bridge and a fire melted the cable. In the Northeast a cable break
on a railway line broke regional connections for three backbone providers.
A gas leak in California shut down a colo center when the fire department
shut off power to the area and refused to allow diesel generators to
operate. In San Francisco, runoff from the recent rains flooded an
underground transformer and knocked out power to a colo center where most
participants had neglected to install generators. The list could go on and
on.

The importnat lesson is that some problems are better solved by the free
market and by attention to engineering issues, not by changing policies.

Michael Dillon                   -               Internet & ISP Consulting
Memra Software Inc.              -                  Fax: +1-250-546-3049
http://www.memra.com             -               E-mail: michael at memra.com