It wants countrywide allocation in Asia-Pacific region rather than to companies

Indian authorities have sought a major change in the way the next-generation IPv6 Internet address resources are to be shared, suggesting a countrywide allocation in the Asia-Pacific region rather than parcelling them out to companies and organisations, as is being done now.

They have proposed that a relatively large contiguous share of these resources be allotted to countries, with their projected long-term national requirements taken into consideration, and from that poll, future allocations to organisations and stakeholders within an economy should be made.

The new protocol, IPv6, is increasingly expected to drive the web address system following the global exhaustion of the old IPv4-based addresses. These protocols form the technical basis for the transmission of data from one point to another across the Internet. The number of web addresses possible under the old system totalled about 4 billion, while the new regime allows for virtually countless addresses — 2 to the 128th power.

A change was necessary to ensure a more efficient and equitable way of sharing IPv6 resources than the manner in which the old IPv4 addresses were shared globally, the authorities contended.

IPv4 addresses were not apportioned on a country-specific basis, but to companies like Internet Service Providers, and different kinds of members that make up the regional address-allocating body, called the regional Internet registry. In some countries, national and local Internet registries are also involved in the process.

The Indian case has been made to the Asia Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC), which is responsible for apportioning web addresses in this part of the world.

The ‘IPv4 era' APNIC policy did not provide for reservation of these resources “for future organisations in economies that are not in a position to ask for addresses at present,” the Indian authorities. Besides, contiguous allocations are not made “when an organisation goes back to the APNIC for further allocation [reapplying after more than one year].”

The Indian proposal does not, however, say the system of companies and organisations getting their IPv6 addresses directly from the APNIC be abandoned; only that it be done in a country-specific manner.

At an APNIC meeting in Busan, South Korea, last month, the Indian authorities said the system could be followed for all countries in the region, with the APNIC assessing the requirements.

The proposal met with a mixed response, and it has been referred back to the APNIC community for further discussions. Some community members felt that it was too early to discuss such a proposal when the IPv6 regime was yet to really take off. One argument was that it was against freedom because such a policy would make it easy for the authorities from the country and outside to block the flow of traffic.

“We had internal discussions in the country with almost all major service providers before moving to the APNIC,” said R.M. Agarwal, Deputy Director-General, Department of Telecommunications.

If it is approached basically as an operational rather than policy issue and backed by sufficient technical justification, India could successfully end up getting a bigger allocation from the APNIC, said Naresh Ajwani, vice-chairman of address council, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. “India needs it; it is very much possible.”

“Despite the revision of the [Indian] policy, the message didn't go down well with the community out there. With a little more correction, more logic, and some kind of an assurance, it can work out.”

Interestingly, one of the points the Indian authorities had made in an earlier version of its proposal was that the allocation of Internet number resources to it in bulk would make it easier for the law enforcement agencies to trace the web addresses of end-users.

For quite some time, the government has been planning the setting up of a National Internet Registry to manage Internet number resources. Once the registry becomes operational, part of the IPv6 resource management can be done at the national level too.