[ppml] Policy Proposal 2003-15: IPv4 Allocation Policy for the Africa Portion of the ARIN Region

Bill Woodcock woody at pch.net
Mon Sep 29 14:33:27 EDT 2003

      On Wed, 24 Sep 2003, William Stucke wrote:
    > In most of the 53 countries in Africa, ISPs don't
    > have a choice of from whom they get service, nor how it is carried. They are
    > obliged to use the monopoly incumbent, or go to jail. Some of those monopoly
    > Telcos are VERY reluctant to assign IP addresses - e.g. Kenya.

This is an important factor for Americans to consider carefully before
rushing to judgement in this issue.  One of the _really fundamental_
assumptions Americans make, upon which the whole policy framework in
America is founded, is that customers can vote with their feet.  That is,
if a customer doesn't like the policies of an upstream provider
($500/month for an additional IP address, or whatever), they can simply
switch providers, and give their money to someone more reasonable.  That
logic is simply not applicable in the African regulatory context, and that
fundamental difference informs this whole debate.  So, American ARIN
members, please step back and think about that before judging this policy.

    > an ISP in Bonaparte, Iowa, and I wanted a T1 line to the BWW (Big Wide World
    > [tm]), it would cost me $1,024 to $1,052 per month from one of two providers
    > (http://shopfort1.com). If I was an ISP in Africa and I got it from my
    > state-legislated monopoly Telco, it would cost me ~$55,000 per month for the
    > same dedicated T1 symmetrical bandwidth.

Simultaneously, the average annual income of the _customers_ in Podunk,
Iowa, is presumably about US$18,000/household.  Which will seem low to the
policy-setters at ISPs, mostly well-paid engineers on the coasts, where
individual engineers' salaries are often US$60,000/year or more.

Ask yourself how many /20s of addresses you could fill with customers
whose average annual incomes were US$250/year.  In a country where the
vast majority of potential customers aren't potential customers because
they don't have a phone line and it's illegal for you to lay one or use

Ask yourself again how many you could fill if that were true _and_ you had
to pay US$55,000/month (US$660,000/year) _per T1_ of bandwidth. Which is
_not_ an orthoganal issue, since a) this is an argument of scale, not
technology, and b) IP addresses are being sold to the African continent by
the providers of that bandwidth, based upon how much money they receive.
Unless we allow them to solve that problem by giving them the same
opportunity to use portable address space that ISPs in America take for

    > On the income side, the picture is just as bleak. My company charges $14 per
    > month for an unlimited access dial-up connection, for example.

Just to point out the obvious to those not keeping score here, $14/month
is 67% of an average local salary.  The equivalent of $1,000/month for a
Podunk, Iowan.  The equivalent of $3,500/month for an ISP engineer.

How many customers would you have if you had to charge $3,500/month per
dial-up?  Would you be able to fill a /20?

    > A "really big ISP" (think AOL, Earthlink) in Africa has a few 100,000
    > dial-up subscribers, or a few hundred leased lines. There are only a handful
    > of these (I can think of three, off hand), which is why there are only 19
    > LIRs in sub-Saharan Africa.

I encourage everyone to consider William's point here.  How relevant would
ARIN's policies be if only nineteen ISPs in America were large enough to
qualify for membership?  Is that the kind of organization we want ARIN to

    > SOUTH AFRICA  399
    > SENEGAL        60
    > KENYA          28
    > GABON          16
    > NIGERIA        15
    > BOTSWANA       14
    > The remaining countries have less than 13 Mbps each, with Equatorial Guinea
    > at the bottom of the list with 64 kbps for half a million people.
    > I'd imagine that many of the people on this list have more bandwidth than
    > most of these entire countries for their ISP alone.

In fact, many have more than _all_ of these countries combined.

      Leo wrote:
    >> That said, this proposal leaves a bad taste in
    >> my mouth because it tells the ISP in Africa that needs a /22 that
    >> they are "special enough" to get it, but the same sized ISP in some
    >> other country is not.

Should we be creating policies that are so "special" that they're only
applicable to nineteen ISPs on a whole continent?  Or should we be
creating policies that are generally applicable?

      William wrote:
    > It's not impossible to peer at an IXP if you don't have address space
    > independent from your upstream provider...

But it is impossible if there's no IXP in your country, and you go to jail
if you try to connect to one in another country.  Something else for
American ISPs to think about, when thinking about this policy.  Which is
why we're talking about having to qualify for a /20 currently, rather than
a /21.

      Leo wrote:
    >> If we're going to change the allocation size I believe strongly it
    >> should be a global change

Sorry, this is ARIN.  We don' set global policy.  We set policy for the
United States, Canada, and Sub-Saharan Africa.  Or at least, currently we
set policy for the United States and Canada, and expect Africans to shut
up and live with the results, however inappropriate.


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