[arin-ppml] Policy Proposal: Open Access To IPv6

Tom Vest tvest at pch.net
Sat May 30 12:15:44 EDT 2009

On May 29, 2009, at 5:58 PM, Matthew Kaufman wrote:

> Leo Bicknell wrote:
>> The end user policy gives out /48's.  If we want folks to get a
>> network they can play with in their garage, let's do it under the
>> end user policy.  This policy proposal affects the ISP section,
>> giving out /32's for the express purpose of assigning /48's to other
>> entities.  Let's leave it for folks who are really ISP's, and really
>> providing services to others.
> Ah. "Folks who are really ISPs". This is as bad as the com-priv list  
> in 1992... We *don't know* who is/will be "an ISP". A school  
> district providing service to all its schools? A corporation with a  
> dozen subsidiaries around the world? A guy in his garage who gives  
> away free wireless to his neighborhood?
> Really there shouldn't even *be* a distinction. If you need a / 
> whatever of IPv6 and can write a convincing letter to that effect,  
> you should be able to get at least that much unique IPv6 space.  
> Whether it can be routed now or in the future is really between you  
> and whichever transit provider you choose *should you even need  
> external connectivity*.

Unfortunately, distinctions of some kind are unavoidable as long as  
the carry capacity of the routing system is finite, and jointly  
produced by independent routing services providers. If IPv6 allocation  
policies cause, or simply facilitate/accelerate the unsustainable  
growth of routing system requirements, then some other mechanism will  
have to emerge to mitigate that risk. IPv4 allocation policies have  
provided a flexible, transparent, limiting effect on the growth rate  
for routing requirements by making aggregation not only possible, but  
commonplace. In order to make aggregation *possible*, there must be  
some kind of eligibility test for justifying an institution's claim to  
a "top-level" role in the routing system, i.e., as an aggregator or an  
independent. In order to make aggregation *likely*, it's prudent to  
define those eligibility criteria in a way that aligns the aspiring  
top-level routing system participant's incentives with the continued  
sustained growth of the routing table -- e.g., with "needs" related  
criteria that demonstrate that the entity has invested real money in  
real factors (hardware, network capacity, etc.) that can generate  
value only as long as routing works, and that would be at risk of  
becoming worthless if the routing system becomes unmanageable or fails  

Since independents are by definition non-aggregatable, there needs to  
be some other (probably arbitrary) criterion to limit their absolute  
numbers, e.g., a steep up-front fee. And in order for the whole  
arrangement to be sustainable over time, there must be a clear, fair,  
and widely accepted mobility path for customers to become providers,  
or "independents", and vice versa. To be sustainable, everybody must  
have a clear "out" -- one that is clear both to insiders and outsiders.
You don't want to be aggregated, fine, go make some investments that  
demonstrate that you've got chips in the same routing services game  
that the rest of us are playing, and you can get address resources of  
your own under community-defined policies. You just need to be  
independent? Fine, then pay this sizable, community-defined fee that  
demonstrates that your need is of roughly the same magnitude as the  
burden that "just need to be independents" like you impose on those  
who are playing by the rules of routing system sustainability. Don't  
want to pay that fee either? Okay, here are some operators that can  
provide you with aggregatable address resources bundled with routing  

Even if the quantity of usable IP addresses were literally infinite,  
it would prudent to think hard before dumping needs-related allocation  
criteria. Because if/when this arrangement is abandoned at the point  
of IP address distribution, something similar will just have to be  
recreated at the level of routing service provision. Unfortunately, at  
that level there won't be an "out" for anybody -- there's no credible  
way to tell an aspiring new entrant "fine, just go build your own  
global-scale IP transit system."

We like to remind ourselves that routing decisions are the absolute  
sole prerogative of individual operators, but there are some  
circumstances in which that would likely be more of a problem than a  
point of honor. To date, the inter-domain routing system has been a  
global scale "cooperative undertaking" -- but the only material  
difference between a "cooperative undertaking" and a "collusive  
cartel" is the non-discriminatory, non-adversarial, openness of that  
system to new players. Absolute sovereignty over routing decisions has  
no downside as long as somebody else (e.g., the address allocator)  
guarantees market openness. But if/when that ceases to be true, you're  
on the hook. You don't like "distinctions" applied at the level of  
address allocation, fine -- what kind of distinctions are you going to  
impose on aspiring customers who want you to announce their PI  
prefixes? What kind of distinctions do you expect will be imposed on  
your announcements by upstream providers? How are you going to justify  
your own routing service rationing criteria to critics, because there  
are always critics...?


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