Policy environment for Internet number resource distribution in the Asia Pacific

APNIC Document identity

Title: Policy environment for Internet number resource distribution in the Asia Pacific
Short title: policy-environment
Document ref: APNIC-125 Version: 001
Date of original publication: 9 May 2011 Date of this version: 9 May 2011
Review scheduled: n/a Obsoletes: n/a
Status: Obsolete Comments: Obsoleted by apnic-127

Table of contents

1.    Introduction
2.    Hierarchy of IP address space distribution
3.    Definitions

4.    Goals of address space management

5.    Policy framework

6.    Address requests

7.    Address space license

1.    Introduction

The Asia Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC) is the Regional Internet Registry (RIR) for the Asia Pacific region, responsible for distributing public Internet address space and related resources, including Autonomous System Numbers (ASNs), in the region and for coordinating the development and implementation of policies to manage those resources.

This document outlines the overall structure, principals, and goals of Internet number resource distribution in the Asia Pacific region.

The policies and definitions described in this document were developed by the Internet community of the Asia Pacific region through a consensus process facilitated by APNIC. They are to be implemented by APNIC, by the National Internet Registries (NIRs) and by the Local Internet Registries (LIRs) throughout the region.

2.    Hierarchy of IP address space distribution

IP addresses are distributed in accordance with the hierarchical structure described in RFC2050, represented simply in fig.1.

Distribution Hierarchy

[Figure 1: Diagram of distribution hierarchy]

In this hierarchy, IANA allocates address space to APNIC, to be redistributed throughout the Asia Pacific region. APNIC allocates address space to Internet Registries (IRs) and also delegates to them the authority to make assignments and allocations. In some cases APNIC assigns address space to end users. National and Local IRs allocate and assign address space to their members and customers under the guidance of APNIC and in accordance with the relevant policies and principals described in this document.


3.    Definitions

The following terms and definitions are used in APNIC documents.

3.1.    Internet Registry

An Internet Registry (IR) is an organization that is responsible for distributing IP address space to its members or customers and for registering those distributions. IRs are classified according to their primary function and territorial scope within the hierarchical structure depicted in fig.1 above.

IRs include:

  • APNIC and other Regional Internet Registries (RIRs)
  • National Internet Registries (NIRs)
  • Local Internet Registries (LIRs), unless the specific context of the reference requires otherwise.

3.1.1.    Regional Internet Registry

Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) are established under the authority of IANA to serve and represent large geographical regions. Their primary role is to manage, distribute, and register public Internet address space within their respective regions. Currently, there are five RIRs: AfriNIC, APNIC, ARIN, LACNIC, and the RIPE NCC although a small number of additional RIRs may be established in the future.

3.1.2.    National Internet Registry

A National Internet Registry (NIR) primarily allocates address space to its members or constituents, which are generally LIRs organized at a national level. NIRs are expected to apply their policies and procedures fairly and equitably to all members of their constituency.

The policies in this document apply to NIRs; however, this document does not describe the entire roles and responsibilities of NIRs with respect to their formal relationship with APNIC. Such roles and responsibilities may be described in other documents and agreements, subject to APNIC Document review procedures.

3.1.3.    Local Internet Registry

A Local Internet Registry (LIR) is generally an Internet Service Provider (ISP), and may assign address space to its own network infrastructure and to users of its network services. LIR customers may be other "downstream" ISPs, which further assign address space to their own customers.


3.2.         Address space

In this document, address space means public unicast IP address ranges, which include IP version 4 (IPv4) and IP version 6 (IPv6).

3.3.    Delegated address space

APNIC "delegates" addresses to its account holders. These delegations can be for use on the organization's own infrastructure (an "assignment") or for subsequent delegation by the organization to its customers (an "allocation").

For the purposes of understanding APNIC address space policies, the terms "allocated" and "assigned" are further explained below.

3.3.1.    Allocated

Allocated address space is address space that is distributed to IRs or other organizations for the purpose of subsequent distribution by them.

3.3.2.    Assigned

Assigned address space is address space that is delegated to an ISP or end-user, for specific use within the Internet infrastructure they operate. Assignments must only be made for specific, documented purposes and may not be sub-assigned.

3.4.    Current resources

Current resources are Internet resources registered by APNIC under explicit policies and agreements. Resources include public IPv4, IPv6 addresses, and ASNs.

3.5.    Historical resources

Historical resources are Internet resources registered under early registry policies without formal agreements and include:

  • Registrations transferred to APNIC as part of the AUNIC to APNIC migration
  • Registrations transferred as part of the Early Registration Transfer (ERX) project
  • Historical APNIC resources.

For more information on historical resources, see "Policies for historical Internet resources in the APNIC Whois Database".


3.6.    Internet Exchange Point

An Internet Exchange Point (IX or IXP) is a layer 1 and layer 2-network structure that interconnects three or more Autonomous Systems (AS) for the purpose of Internet traffic interchange.

3.7.    Multihomed

An organization is considered to be multihomed if its network receives fulltime connectivity from more than one ISP and has one or more routing prefixes announced by at least two of its ISPs.


4.    Goals of address space management

4.1.    Goals

The goals described here were formulated by the Internet community and reflect the mutual interest of all members of that community in ensuring that the Internet is able to function and grow to the maximum extent possible.

It is APNIC's primary duty, as a custodian of a public resource, to ensure that these goals are met within the Asia Pacific region. APNIC does this by providing guidance and leadership in developing and implementing responsible policies and practices.

It is the responsibility of every NIR and LIR to also ensure that these goals are met within their respective regions and communities.

4.1.1.    Uniqueness

Every assignment and allocation of address space must be guaranteed as globally unique. This is an absolute requirement for ensuring that every public host on the Internet can be uniquely identified.

4.1.2.    Registration

All assignments and allocations made directly by APNIC to its Members and customers must be registered in a publicly accessible database. This is necessary to ensure uniqueness and to provide information for Internet troubleshooting at all levels. It also reflects the expectation of the Internet community that custodians of these public resources should be identifiable. Organizations that receive an allocation from APNIC can choose whether or not their customer assignment registrations should be publicly available. If the organization does not indicate a choice, or it chooses to hide its customer assignment registrations, then those records will not be visible in the public whois database. Whois queries on these records will return details of the allocation.

4.1.3.    Aggregation

Wherever possible, address space should be distributed in a hierarchical manner, according to the topology of network infrastructure. This is necessary to permit the aggregation of routing information by network operators, and to limit the expansion of Internet routing tables.

4.1.4.    Address aggregation

It is a condition of all delegations made under initial or subsequent LIR delegation criteria, that the address space is aggregated by the LIR within a minimum number of route announcements (preferably one).

LIRs must only delegate addresses to customers who will be using those addresses in relation to network connectivity services provided by the LIR.

LIRs are expected to enter into agreements with their customers specifying that the end-user will hold the addresses only for so long as the end-user remains a customer of that LIR. Such agreements should also be consistent with the license under which the address space is being used by the LIR.

4.1.5.    No guarantee of contiguous delegations

APNIC will attempt to make any subsequent delegations contiguous with previous delegations, but cannot guarantee that this will be possible.

4.1.6.    Conservation

To maximize the lifetime of the available resource, address space must be distributed according to actual need and for immediate use. Stockpiling address space and maintaining reservations are contrary to this goal. Conservation also implies efficiency. Therefore, all users of address space should adopt techniques such as Variable Length Subnet Masking (VLSM) and appropriate technologies that ensure the address space is not used wastefully.

4.1.7.    Fairness

All policies and practices relating to the use of address space should apply fairly and equitably to all existing and potential members of the Internet community, regardless of their location, nationality, size, or any other factor.

4.2.     Conflict of goals

The goals of conservation and aggregation often conflict with each other. Also, some or all of the goals may occasionally conflict with the interests of individual IRs or end-users. Therefore, IRs evaluating requests for address space must carefully analyse all relevant considerations and try to balance the needs of the requestor with the needs of the Internet community as a whole.

This document is intended to help IRs perform their role in consistent and equitable ways. IRs must maintain full documentation of and transparency within the decision-making process.


5.    Policy framework

All NIRs and LIRs that receive address space from APNIC (either directly or indirectly) must adopt delegation policies that are consistent with the policies described in this document.

NIRs and LIRs must ensure that address space for which they are responsible is only allocated or assigned subject to agreements consistent with the license provisions of Section 7 of this document.

Also, NIRs must, wherever possible, apply slow start, assignment window, and second opinion policies to their own members in a manner consistent with the way APNIC applies such policies.

5.1.     Policy environment

Apart from the goals described in Section 4, other factors influence the APNIC policy environment. These other factors include the expectations of the Internet community, current administrative structures, and technological constraints.

The policy environment may change quickly or in unpredictable ways, so APNIC, on behalf of its Members, must monitor any changes and communicate any policy implications.

This Section describes the factors in the current operating environment that have been most important in determining current APNIC policies.

5.1.1.    Routability

The routability of address space throughout the Internet can never be guaranteed by any single organization. To reduce the number of globally advertised routes, network operators may implement route filtering policies based on prefix length. As a result, small portable assignments are the most likely to suffer routability problems. Therefore, APNIC policies encourage those seeking address space to request from upstream providers rather than from APNIC directly.

5.1.2.    Internet growth rates

Early strategies for distributing address space did not anticipate the rapid growth of the Internet and the scaling problems that followed, affecting both the amount of address space available and routing. Therefore, APNIC policies take account of past experience and seek to manage address space in a way that will maximize future scaling of the Internet.

5.1.3.    Collective responsibility

APNIC shares with its Members and their customers a collective responsibility to ensure manageable and scalable Internet growth and to make decisions consistent with the goals described in Section 4. Therefore, APNIC policies and procedures are developed by APNIC Members and the broader Internet community as a whole, in the common interest of those communities. In implementing policies, APNIC and its Members rely on an implicit trust that delegated responsibilities are carried out in good faith. Specifically, APNIC must trust that the information gathered from Members during the request process is genuine and accurate.

5.1.4.    Impartiality

APNIC represents the interests of the Internet community in general and the Internet community of the Asia Pacific region in particular. Therefore, APNIC must apply its policies fairly and equitably, without regard to an organization's size, geographic location, or any other factor.


5.1.5.    Varying levels of expertise

Different IRs and end-users have varying levels of experience and expertise. APNIC policies allow for varying levels of assistance and monitoring, appropriate to ensure a consistent approach to address space management throughout the Asia Pacific Internet community.

5.1.6.    Address ownership

The Internet community regards address space as a scarce, public resource that should only be distributed according to demonstrated need. ISPs and other organizations and individuals that use address space are considered "custodians" rather than "owners" of the resource. As address space becomes more scarce, address space management policies may be adjusted by the community.

5.1.7.    Address stockpiling

Stockpiling addresses is harmful to the goals of conservation and fairness. APNIC policies must prevent stockpiling and ensure efficient deployment of address space on the basis of immediate demonstrated need.

5.1.8.    Reservations not supported

When an LIR wants to delegate address space for customers, it must use any address space it currently holds.

When evaluating address requests, reserved address space is not considered to be delegated.

5.1.9.    Evaluations to be based on best practice

APNIC should ensure that address space holders adopt current best practice in the management of the resources they use. If appropriate technologies exist for improved management of address space in particular situations, the community expects that those technologies should be used. APNIC consults with its Members and the broader Internet community to define and develop current best practice recommendations relating to Internet addressing technologies and techniques.

5.1.10.    Minimum practical delegation

Because the goals of aggregation and conservation conflict, it is necessary to apply a minimum practical size for address space delegation. This minimum size may be reviewed from time to time, as technologies and administrative conditions evolve.

5.1.11.    Slow start mechanism

Subject to Section 3.2, APNIC and NIRs apply a slow start mechanism to all new LIRs. The slow start is applied to prevent delegations of large blocks of address space that may then remain substantially unused.

5.1.12.    Exceptions to slow start

In exceptional circumstances, an LIR may receive a greater initial delegation if it can demonstrate that its immediate need for address space exceeds the standard slow start delegation.

The documentation required to justify an exception to the slow start may include (but is not limited to):

  • Receipts for the purchase of equipment,
  • Purchase orders, or
  • Signed project contracts indicating the immediate network requirements to be met by the LIR.


6.    Address requests

6.1.     General requirements for allocation requests

All requests for address space must be supported by documentation describing:

  • The network infrastructure of the organization making the request,
  • Any address space currently held by that organization (including historical address space),
  • Previous assignments made by that organization (including assignments made from historical address allocations), and
  • The intended use for the address space requested.

In addition to this general requirement, more specific documentation may also be requested, as outlined below.

6.1.1.    Documentation

To properly evaluate requests, IRs must carefully examine all relevant documentation relating to the networks in question. This documentation may include:

  • Network engineering plans
  • Subnetting plans
  • Descriptions of network topology
  • Descriptions of network routing plans
  • Equipment invoices and purchase orders
  • Other relevant documents

All documentation should conform to a consistent standard and any estimates and predictions that are documented must be realistic and justifiable.

6.2.     Security and confidentiality

APNIC will maintain systems and practices that protect the confidentiality of all information relating to the commercial and infrastructure operations of all Members and their customers. APNIC will ensure that the employment of all of its staff or agents is based upon an explicit condition of confidentiality regarding such information.

APNIC provides for authorization and verification mechanisms within the APNIC Whois Database. It is the responsibility of each IR or end-user to apply these mechanisms.

6.2.1.    Confidentiality

The documentation which supports address space requests involves information that may be highly confidential to the organizations and individuals involved. Therefore, APNIC will operate in ways that reflect the trust implicit in its position by applying and enforcing procedures that protect the confidential information of its Members and their customers.

6.3.     Equitable processing of requests

APNIC will deal with all requests strictly in the order in which it receives the proper documentation. To provide fair treatment for all applicants, APNIC will not, under any circumstance, provide any special treatment or make exceptions to the standard order of request processing.

APNIC will seek to process all requests within a consistent time and will maintain a request tracking system for efficient request management.

6.3.1.    Processing of requests dependent on correct documentation

APNIC will only process requests that have been completely and properly documented. If the documentation contains errors or omissions, APNIC will advise the applicant as soon as possible. APNIC may also request the applicant to provide further information or clarify relevant issues that are not clear in the initial request.

APNIC will process the request as soon as the errors and omissions have been rectified or the additional questions have been answered.

APNIC will make all reasonable efforts to maintain a consistent and reliable level of service with respect to processing of requests.

6.4.    Organizations seeking address space from multiple IRs

Organizations must obtain their address space from only one IR at a time. Organizations requesting address space from any IR must declare all the address space they currently hold, regardless of the source. Organizations making concurrent requests to more than one IR must declare the details of all of those requests.

In certain circumstances (for example, where an organization is multihomed), strong technical reasons may justify an organization receiving address space from more than one source.

For the purposes of this section, a parent organization and its subsidiaries are considered to be a single organization. Exceptions may arise in cases where the parts of the organization:

  • Are separate legal entities,
  • Maintain fully independent network infrastructures and are routed under different ASNs, or
  • Can otherwise demonstrate a justified need to obtain address space from more than one IR.


7.    Address space license

APNIC will delegate Internet resources on a 'license' basis, with such licenses to be of specific limited duration (normally one year).

The conditions of all licenses are described in the APNIC membership agreements, service agreements, and other relevant APNIC documents.

Licenses to organizations shall be renewable on the following conditions:

  • The original basis of the delegation remains valid, and
  • That address space is properly registered at the time of renewal.

When a license is renewed, the new license will be subject to address space policies and license conditions effective at the time of renewal, provided that a minimum notice period of one year is given of any substantial changes to the conditions of the current license.

All substantial changes to license conditions are subject to the consensus of APNIC Members, in accordance with the APNIC Document Review Policies and Procedures.

Individual licenses shall only be subject to review if the relevant IR has reason to believe that the existing license terms are no longer being complied with. IRs may implement their own procedures for the review of existing licenses as they see fit.

7.1.    Validity of IP address delegations

An allocation or assignment of address space is valid only while the original criteria on which the allocation or assignment was based continue to be valid.

An allocation or assignment becomes invalid if it is:

  • Made for a specific purpose that no longer exists, or
  • Based on information that is later found to be false or incomplete.

If an allocation or assignment becomes invalid then the address space must be returned to the appropriate IR.

7.2.    Closure of LIRs

If an LIR holding APNIC address space ceases to provide Internet connectivity services, all of its address space must be returned to APNIC. It is the responsibility of the LIR (or any liquidator or administrator appointed to wind up the Member's business) to advise all of its customers that address space will be returned to APNIC, and that renumbering into new address space will be necessary.

In the case that a new LIR takes over the business or infrastructure of the closed LIR, the existing address space may be transferred to the new LIR, however such a transfer is subject to re-examination by APNIC and may be treated as a new address request process.

For more on the transfer of resources, see APNIC transfer, merger, acquisition, and takeover policies: