[arin-ppml] IP Address Fee Structure Policy and the Right of Education

Milton L Mueller mueller at syr.edu
Sun Nov 29 20:05:57 EST 2009

> -----Original Message-----
> Why does ARIN manage the IP addresses allocated to North America? Did they
> win a competition in cost-effeteness and reliability?

ARIN is the product of a privatization of a U.S. government contractor by the National Science Foundation in 1997. 

> And does ARIN show a proof that the fees cover at least 90% of their
> operating costs?

ARIN's fees for address blocks reflect neither the economic value of the resources nor its actual costs in administering addresses. Instead, ARIN is run as a membership association for ASNs. However, when offered a cup of the "we don't charge for addresses" kool-aid, you really don't have to drink it. ARIN uses the size of address blocks as a rough proxy for the size of the member in order to tier the fees. It also uses address fees (crudely) as a policy instrument in other ways. The RIR fee policies are, let us put it charitably, in transition and a bit confused.

> If IANA would replace ARIN with GQHS today, I could offer everyone a /20
> block for just $10 annually and no cent more. GQHS will also have less
> operation costs and that will save our environment a lot.

IANA - that is, ICANN - has no ability to "replace" ARIN. In theory, ICANN could allocate address blocks to someone else, or even assign them to users directly. That would constitute a rather revolutionary change in current Internet governance arrangements, however, so don't count on it happening any time soon. You're dealing with highly institutionalized relationships among a fairly settled group of actors. 

Whether there could be a competitive tendering of RIR functions is an idea worth considering (at least for us mischievous souls who enjoy both probing the intellectual limits of ARIN apologists and watching them labor to manufacture plausible rationalizations for the status quo). 

Truth be told, however, I doubt seriously if your organization could replace ARIN's functions at the scale and level of reliability required. In terms of "reliability" there are no obvious reasons to complain about any of the three main RIRs.

> Has anyone a problem with IP addresses given away for as cheap as a .com
> domain?

I do, if you're talking IPv4 addresses. The scarcity value of an IPv4 address block vastly exceeds the market price of most available .com registrations. Keep in mind that some .com names have sold for millions of dollars based on their value and that an ordinary (good) .com name in the secondary market routinely goes for a few thousand dollars. 


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