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Internet

ISPs to fight address change

The Association of Online Professionals urges its members to lobby against a potentially costly proposal to change the regulation of IP addresses.

The Association of Online Professionals is urging its members to weigh in against a new proposal that would cost Internet service providers thousands of dollars a year.

Network Solutions, the InterNIC subcontractor that assigns Internet domain names for a fee, is proposing the formation of a new body, The American Registry for Internet Numbers Proposal, to regulate IP addresses. IP addresses are the numeric codes that sit behind Internet names, much like phone numbers are what is behind a person being called.

The plan proposed by Network Solutions raises more questions than answers and doesn't say how the "millions of dollars" raised in the plan would be spent, said Dave McClure, executive director of AOP, which represents about 600 ISPs.

The proposal includes a provision to charge North American ISPs $2,500 to $20,000 a year for a block of the addresses.

In addition, there would be a fee imposed on the end user of the number. For instance, an ISP could buy a block of numbers, then turn around and sell numbers individually to other ISPs or companies setting up Web sites. Those entities would have to pay fees that range from $2,500 to $10,000.

McClure said he does not object to the concept of setting up a new registry to take over where the government, which now regulates the numbers, is leaving off. But he said the proposal is vague about where and how the money would be spent.

"What they've proposed in a broad brush is not a bad idea," he said. "The devil is in the details."

"Our question is: What is the actual cost to maintain the IP addresses and the assignments?" McClure said. "What is the relationship between those costs and the millions in fees that they plan to impose on the industry?"

The proposal says only that "Similar to other nonprofit organizations, funding would come from membership dues and fees for registration and maintenance," but is not more specific, except to say that an executive director, to be chosen by a board of trustees, would receive a salary determined by the board.

Jon Postel, head of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), could not be reached for comment. IANA oversees all three of the world's Internet-number assigning authorities, including the InterNIC IP group.

IANA, as well as the National Science Foundation, would have to approve Network Solutions' plan before it would go into effect.