[ppml] Revision to 2008-3

Josh King josh at acornactivemedia.com
Fri Apr 4 00:43:02 EDT 2008

Jay Hennigan wrote:
> Edward Lewis wrote:
>> I'm against it as written.
>> To keep my rationale short, I'll refer to two messages by Owen 
>> Delong, paraphrasing:
>> 1) A community networks should be defined by having a status such as 501c3.
>> 2) The example 501c3 should not have been mentioned.
>> Reading the proposal now, I would consider my local cable operator 
>> (Northern Virginia Cox) to qualify as a community network.  I don't 
>> need or expect answer to this on PPML, but after reading the 
>> discussion and proposal - what's an example of a "community network", 
>> as in "a real life example?"  And "why would they need special 
>> dispensation?"  How do they differ from an LIR/ISP?
> As I understand the intent, from a technical/engineering standpoint a 
> community network resembles a local or regional ISP.  In my opinion they 
> should be considered an LIR by ARIN, as opposed to attempting to define 
> them as a separate type of entity.
>  From an administrative standpoint, they are more along the lines of a 
> co-operative than an ISP.  Think of them as like a food co-op instead of 
> a supermarket.  Unlike your cable operator a community network doesn't 
> have customers, it has members.
What do you all think about this, as a possible revision (addition at
the end):

"A community network is a generic reference to any network that is
operated by a group of people living in a particular local area
organized for the purposes of delivery or provision of network services
to the residents of an incorporated or unincorporated regional
municipality, city, town, village, rural municipality, township, county,
district or other municipality or other such geographic space, however
designated. The network must be operated in a not-for-profit fashion,
and for the general good of the designated community to which its
services are provided, while providing avenues of participation for said

I'm hesitant to get more specific than that. It seems like some people
want tighter restrictions on organizational type, and some want less. I
think this provides a clarification without restricting the internal
structure of the group or organization that operates the network.

I agree with your assessment of the technical vs. administrative
structure of community networks, as this is the crux of the problem. A
community network applying for address space from ARIN is turned away
because they don't fit the policy. They are not just an end-user,
because they provide services. But they can't show that they're an LIR,
because they have no customers. That's what I'm trying to address, by
whatever method. There are probably many ways to shoehorn them into the
policy; the method suggested to me by ARIN staff when I started this
process was to add a third category, which was what I decided to pursue.
I think this has some benefits, as opposed to expanding the LIR policy.
Although not all LIRs are ISPs, most are. In a time when municipal
networks are under fire from ISPs for being anti-competitive, the last
thing that most community networks want is to be regarded as a direct
competitor to local ISPs, who in many cases are the ones from whom the
community network is receiving their connectivity. Community networks
are predominantly providing services where traditional ISPs aren't, or
providing alternative services besides just internet access. But if they
are classed as LIRs, they may be regarded as ISPs, and will have more
difficulties with trying to fit in with commercial ISPs. Or such is my
perception. It also serves to prevent diluting the LIR policy, making
its rules more lax in what might be perceived as a disservice to those
organizations who have already qualified under that policy.

On the other hand, changing the LIR policy to allow community networks
may be a simpler modification, a consideration that might override any
perceived benefits from the other route. Hopefully I can make this
version of the policy sufficiently acceptable to everyone, but maybe
that'll be something to try next time if this one doesn't get passed ;)

Josh King
josh at acornactivemedia.com
Senior Network Engineer, Acorn Active Media
System Administrator, Chambana.net (http://www.chambana.net)
"I am an Anarchist not because I believe Anarchism is the final goal,
but because there is no such thing as a final goal." -Rudolf Rocker

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