[arin-ppml] simple question about money

Milton L Mueller mueller at syr.edu
Fri Jun 13 10:16:48 EDT 2008


> -----Original Message-----
> [mailto:arin-ppml-bounces at arin.net] On Behalf Of michael.dillon at bt.com
> Currently ARIN policy only allows for organizations to receive IP
> address allocations or assignments if they can show a 
> technical need for the addresses. 

But as you yourself implicitly recognize, once the addresses have been
assigned, they don't come back. And as you also recognized in your
reference to the telecom collapse, in many cases it is perfectly
rational for organizations that have been assigned addresses to hold on
to them even if they have more than they presently need, because they
may grow in the future, and the process of "demonstrating need" to a
central planning authority is costly, time consuming and unpleasant. So
your comparison of these organizations to car thieves is just
inflammatory rhetoric that doesn't solve any problem. 

Good policy pays attention to how people actually behave and what their
rational incentives are. If your policy is founded on the assumption
that commercial ISPs and corporations will voluntarily give up resources
that don't cost them anything to hold in order to help other ISPs or
organizations, it probably won't work, because that assumption doesn't
square with how people actually behave.

> If the technical need has ceased to exist, 
> then these organizations are no longer LEGITIMATELY holding those

So, what do you think is a better way to get them back? Get people on
the ARIN PPML to call them bad names? Or provide them tangible economic
benefits to transfer them to someone who does need them? If ISP A needs
addresses and ISP B is willing to give up addresses that it doesn't need
as long as it receives some compensation, why should anyone object? 

> It is strange to see an economist who does not recognize the fact than
> when a fixed resource nears exhaustion, there just isn't anything
> available for people to sell because everyone is in the same boat.

I think you misunderstand the issue here. The fundamental insight behind
the address transfer policy is that there is a huge difference between
"exhaustion" of _assignments_, which is purely nominal, and the
exhaustion of the _actually used_ address space, which we may not have
reached. There may be large amounts of address space that are assigned,
but unused. The assignees nevertheless hold on to that space because
they get no benefits from giving it up, but incur real costs and risks
if they do. 

We've been through a very similar situation with respect to radio
spectrum. There has been a 50-year war between broadcasters and mobile
telecom interests over the UHF spectrum resources. There is little doubt
about the fact that the UHF spectrum allocated to broadcasters is vastly
underutilized. Nevertheless, broadcaster industry organizations (NAB,
etc.) have invested IMMENSE political and financial resources into
hanging on to that spectrum and preventing a reallocation to mobile
telecom. Broadcasters hoard spectrum because they know that they have
control of an extremely valuable asset and once they give it up other
firms will benefit and they won't. Legally, spectrum is the property of
"the public." But railing about the public airwaves doesn't do anyone a
bit of good in this policy dispute. 

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