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Do you know IANA?

If you ask people what IANA is, you could get a range of answers. Some would say the IANA is Jon Postel, a pioneer of the early Internet.. Others might ask, “Could you spell that for me?” We hear “IANA” thrown around a lot these days and it’s clear most people aren’t clear at all.

IANA is an acronym: Internet Assigned Numbers Authority. Internet pioneer Jon Postel led IANA until 1998, the year he died, out of the University of Southern California. Today IANA is a 10-person department within ICANN.

So what does the IANA department do?

The day-to-day job of the IANA staff includes:

  • maintaining a central repository for the Internet’s standards
  • verifying and updating changes to Top Level Domain (TLD) information
  • distributing Internet numbers to regions for Internet use
Fadi Chehadé with the IANA staff

The IANA staff does this by receiving and executing a range of requests. Many of the registries maintained by IANA are described in a contract ICANN has with the United States government. Some of the most well known registries are the DNS Root Zone, which is the official register for which top-level domains have been created; and the IP address registries, which lists which unique numbers have been allocated to which region.

However, there are hundreds of registries that are used behind the scenes that you may not be familiar with; registries such as port numbers and media types are not immediately obvious to users of the Internet but are important to ensure interoperability of the Internet. These registries ensure that vendors and software developers who want to build products for the Internet can work reliably with other devices on the Internet.

In short, the IANA team is keeper of the records of unique identifiers of the Internet. We are one small group of people just doing our share for the good of the Internet.


    Domain Name System
    Internationalized Domain Name ,IDN,"IDNs are domain names that include characters used in the local representation of languages that are not written with the twenty-six letters of the basic Latin alphabet ""a-z"". An IDN can contain Latin letters with diacritical marks, as required by many European languages, or may consist of characters from non-Latin scripts such as Arabic or Chinese. Many languages also use other types of digits than the European ""0-9"". The basic Latin alphabet together with the European-Arabic digits are, for the purpose of domain names, termed ""ASCII characters"" (ASCII = American Standard Code for Information Interchange). These are also included in the broader range of ""Unicode characters"" that provides the basis for IDNs. The ""hostname rule"" requires that all domain names of the type under consideration here are stored in the DNS using only the ASCII characters listed above, with the one further addition of the hyphen ""-"". The Unicode form of an IDN therefore requires special encoding before it is entered into the DNS. The following terminology is used when distinguishing between these forms: A domain name consists of a series of ""labels"" (separated by ""dots""). The ASCII form of an IDN label is termed an ""A-label"". All operations defined in the DNS protocol use A-labels exclusively. The Unicode form, which a user expects to be displayed, is termed a ""U-label"". The difference may be illustrated with the Hindi word for ""test"" — परीका — appearing here as a U-label would (in the Devanagari script). A special form of ""ASCII compatible encoding"" (abbreviated ACE) is applied to this to produce the corresponding A-label: xn--11b5bs1di. A domain name that only includes ASCII letters, digits, and hyphens is termed an ""LDH label"". Although the definitions of A-labels and LDH-labels overlap, a name consisting exclusively of LDH labels, such as"""" is not an IDN."