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IANA Functions Usage Analysis

When I joined ICANN a few months ago and learned that part of my role would be supporting the IANA Stewardship Transition process, I wanted to learn more about how those functions are actually operated and how much the community uses them. My background has been in the IETF for 20+ years where I chaired several working groups and authored a number of RFC’s, so I have always known the IANA registries as a user of the functions, however I was not very intimate with its internal operation.

The IANA department performs a set of tasks that involves the coordination of many of the identifiers that allow the global Internet to operate. Notably, it maintains registries, which are most often simply text files, for three Internet communities: the Domain Names community, the Numbering Resources community (including the Regional Internet Registries or RIRs) and the Protocol Parameters community (including the Internet Engineering Task Force or IETF). In total, the IANA department maintains more than 2,800 registries.

I looked back at the various statistics available and compiled usage data over the last five years – and I was surprised at how little I knew about the scope of the work being done there. I hope the result of this study will also be helpful to all of those in the community that are actively involved in the transition process.

I. Domain Names Community

Country Code TLDs (ccTLDs)

Requests about ccTLDs can be classified broadly into two categories, depending on the workload they generate: ccTLD (re-)delegations and ccTLD changes such as administrative or technical contact changes and DS record updates.

Names: ccTLDs Number of requests per month

Generic TLDs (gTLDs)

Similarly, gTLD requests can be classified broadly in two categories: gTLD (re-)delegations and gTLD changes such as administrative or technical contact changes, and name server or DS record updates. On this graph, we clearly see the impact of the introduction of new gTLDs.

Names: gTLDs Number of requests per month

II. Numbers Community

IPv4, IPv6 and Autonomous System Numbers (ASNs)

The numbers community requests IPv4 unicast address blocks, IPv6 unicast address blocks and blocks of Autonomous Systems Numbers (ASNs). Large IPv6 unicast address blocks were requested by the RIRs prior to 2010 and no additional requests have yet been received. IANA’s pool of unallocated IPv4 unicast addresses was exhausted in 2011, however since that date, a few IPv4 unicast address blocks were returned to ICANN and later redistributed to the RIRs according to global policies.

Numbers: IPv4 & IPv6 unicast, ASN Number of requests per month

III. Protocol Parameters Community

IETF Registries

The vast majority of the registries maintained by ICANN as the IANA function operator are for protocol parameters defined and used by the IETF.

Private Enterprise Numbers

The most heavily used IETF protocol parameter registry is for Private Enterprise Numbers (PENs). PENs are typically used in Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) Management Information Base (MIB) configurations. To make the diagram easier to read, I’ve separated the PEN requests from the other IETF requests.

Protocols Number of requests per month

IV. Total usage

This final graph represents a picture of all the requests processed for all of the three communities – Domain Names, Numbering Resources and Protocol Parameters – over the last 5 years. Note, to make the graph easier to read, the cc-TLDs and gTLDs delegations/re-delegations are shown on a secondary axis, on the right hand side of the graph. As you can see from the graph with the introduction of new gTLDs, the volume of requests related to delegations/re-delegations of TLDs has grown substantially. Requests from the Numbering Resources community have remained flat, and we are seeing an upswing in Protocol Parameter requests after a lull in mid-2012. Overall, with the exception of the introduction of new gTLDs, the volume of requests related to the IANA functions has remained very predictable over a five-year period.

IANA Functions Monthly Usage

Again, I hope that you found this data helpful, as I know I did, to understand the scope of the IANA functions. Those functions are critical to maintain the security and stability 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."