Internet Architecture Board


IAB Position on the IETF IANA Technical Parameter Function, 6 March 2006

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The IAB position on the IETF IANA Technical Parameter Function

This version:  March 6, 2006.

The work of the IETF in formulating and publishing Internet standards is heavily dependent upon the technical parameter assignment IANA function.  This is a “living document” which describes concerns with the existing management of that function, and the IAB’s guidance for resolving  those issues.

The IETF technical parameter assignment function and IANA

The IETF provided a public comment
on the US Department of Commerce’s RFI [2]
for the IANA function.  The public comment provided some clarifications of the function.

Some History

In 1998, DoC signed an agreement with ICANN [6] to “coordinate” various activities, including “Coordination of the assignment of other Internet technical parameters as needed to maintain universal connectivity on the Internet;”. Following the February1999 clarification of ICANN’s understanding of “coordination” [7],  the IETF established an effort to undertake this work cooperatively with ICANN on the basis of a Memorandum of Understanding documented in RFC2860 [3]. This MoU was signed by the IETF and ICANN on March 1, 2000 and ratified by ICANN’s Board on March 10, 2000.

That MoU remains a constructive expression of the separation of responsibility for the entire set of activities that grew out of the original Internet Assigned Numbers Authority. The separation of the technical parameter assignment function that it established and which the current RFI recognizes (subject to the corrections noted in the IETF’s public response) has proved highly successful in separating technical and policy issues. However, in spite of the best intentions and efforts on both sides of the MoU, the IETF has had occasion to express dissatisfaction with the operational results [4].
In the interim, the situation has improved, but much work remains to be done.

The publication by the Department of Commerce puzzles us.  The RFI does not refer to or acknowledge RFC2860, and it was published without any discussion with the IETF. Further it appears to extend beyond “coordination” to “implementation”.  This suggests there is some expectation that the implementation of the technical protocol parameter assignment function may be assigned elsewhere, without the IETF’s involvement, even as we are working actively with ICANN to improve the existing operational relationship.  We find this peculiar because the IETF has responsibility for the technical parameter assignment as part of the IETF’s mission to develop standards for the Internet.

Moving forward

In 2005, the IETF established the IETF Administrative Support Activity (IASA), housed within the Internet Society (ISOC) [5], which has contractual relationships defined with two of the IETF’s three supporting organizations.  The IASA is the home of all IETF-related operational agreements going forward.

The IAB is working with the IASA to determine the best way to handle the IETF’s technical parameter assignment function going forward.  As noted in our comment on the RFI, our preferred path forward is for the Department of Commerce to separate the IANA technical paramter function out of the RFI material, and the IASA will establish appropriate contractual relations on behalf of the IETF for the IETF’s work.









Background:  Organizations

IAB. The Internet Architecture Board has a long history but is currently viewed as a senior committee in the IETF which has both technical (architectural) functions and oversight functions for the development of the Internet. The latter include oversight of IANA functions performed for the IETF. See

IETF. The Internet Engineering Task Force is a worldwide and open organization whose mission is to produce high quality, relevant technical and engineering documents that influence the way people design, use, and manage the Internet in such a way as to make the Internet work better.  These documents include protocol standards, best current practices, and informational documents of various kinds. See

IASA. The IETF Administrative Support Activity was created in 2005. It provides the administrative structure required to support the IETF standards process and to support the IETF’s technical activities.  The IETF expects the IASA to contract this work from others and to manage these contractual relationships to achieve efficiency, transparency, and cost effectiveness. IASA is housed within ISOC.

ISOC.  The Internet Society is a not-for-profit membership organization founded in 1992 to provide leadership in Internet related standards, education, and policy. With offices near Washington, DC, and in Geneva, Switzerland, it is dedicated to ensuring the open development, evolution and use of the Internet for the benefit of people throughout the world. ISOC is the organizational home of the IETF and other Internet-related bodies who together play a critical role in ensuring that the Internet develops in a stable and open manner. For over 13 years ISOC has run international network training programs for developing countries and these have played a vital role in setting up the Internet connections and networks in virtually every country connecting to the Internet during this time. See