Communications

Fragmented internet policy landscape – a red flag

29th November 2021
Kiera Sowery

Each regional internet registry (RIR) has its own specific set of policies governing its pool of Internet Protocol (IP) resources. However, inconsistencies across registries’ regulatory rules make it difficult for them to meet the increasing expectations of businesses as well as match the industry’s fast-paced growth.

According to Aistis Zenkevicius, Director of R&D at IPXO, an IP management marketplace, a centralised commercial RIR would help unify the currently fragmented IP governance landscape, making rapid industry growth more sustainable and equipped for the modern day.

Each RIR differs ever so slightly in providing the essential IP resource management functions. Firstly, it is well-known that some RIRs have not yet offered a programmatic way of accessing and controlling IP assets and their associated metadata. The ones that do provide an application programming interface (API) differ drastically enough to make the application useless, meaning, the code that would work with RIPE would not be compatible with ARIN, and vice versa.

Secondly, the databases that store the registered assignees, organisations, roles, and the internet resources themselves have conflicting or incompatible attributes. Although there has been an attempt to unite this data under The Registration Data Access Protocol (RDAP) it fell short of being a success, and some information is still buried in prehistoric WHOIS databases.

Lastly, the currently fragmented IP resource governance framework lacks the consistency and agility required to support further development of the industry, which adds to the transparency and management challenges.

“The lack of a unified approach towards internet resource management is holding back the industry, growing at lightning speed. Furthermore, the red tape involved in requesting or transferring resources is incompatible with today's fast-paced market. And while some RIRs, for instance, RIPE or ARIN, have more defined transfer procedures, others, e.g. AFRINIC, still need to build them from the ground up,” commented Zenkevičius.

“Ultimately, the sluggish processes do not match the speed and efficiency standards set by the rapidly evolving business landscape.”

To address these issues, IPXO has set out to create a commercial RIR - a unified registry, allowing businesses to lease and reallocate Internet resources from all incumbent RIRs via a single platform. The solution would also provide APIs, enabling developer access to assets and database functions.

“The goal is to build an authoritative, verifiable source of information as well as streamlining access to all internet resources. It will be a powerful solution for companies aiming to scale yet being held back by IP address shortage,” Zenkevičius explained. “The platform would also play an important role in increasing overall industry transparency as well as accountability since all the data would be easily accessible via a single interface along with an open API.”

The basis for the platform has already been launched - recently, IPXO introduced the first fully automated IP leasing and monetisation platform, which is fully compliant with each RIR’s regulatory policies. Currently, IPXO’s platform allows to lease and reallocate ARIN and RIPE region Internet resources.

“The IP leasing platform is the cornerstone of what we aim to build,” Zenkevičius noted. “The demand for means of smoother access and management of IP resources has been there the entire time. I believe a commercial RIR bears the potential to be just the right tool, enabling better governance of IPs, as well as helping to refine current infrastructure to future-proof the industry.”

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