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The Kolkata L-Root Instance Journey

The deployment of the L-Root Instance in Kolkata was initiated as part of the Critical Internet Infrastructure support program. The Internet Society (ISOC) Kolkata Chapter launched in 2013. ISOC Kolkata Chapter’s philosophy has been to facilitate the technical capacity development of people working at the core and edge of the Internet in India.

At the time, one key question of the program was whether India should have more root server instances to help support routing traffic. We realised there was a need for additional root server instances by calculating the average number of Internet users in a region by root instance. America and European regions had 4-5 million users per instance. Whereas, in India it was approximately 100 million users per instance. Though a crude method, it gave us a clear objective to move ahead.

Having gained support from the Indian community, we began to approach various Root instance operators and we spoke with ICANN, the L-Root operator. At the time, ICANN did not operate a L-Root server instance in India. The arrangement with ICANN is simple, ICANN charges the host nothing for hosting the instance, and ICANN staff look after the software and the administrative management. ISOC Kolkata arranges for a server, bandwidth, and supporting cost for the maintenance of the server.

Supplying hardware, preparing necessary security arrangements, and acquiring bandwidth may be routine for an Internet Service Provider (ISP) hosting a root instance, but for our chapter it was a new and first-hand experience.

The process of providing the server to Kolkata required multiple meetings with our sponsors and the suppliers. Presenting the purpose of a server in Kolkata for not-for-profit use versus business needs had to be explained to the taxman.

We also needed to find a location to house the server. It currently sits in one of ISOC Kolkata’s office buildings. Security access systems needed to be established, including installing window grills. This is the responsibility of supporting critical Internet infrastructure!

Our most essential challenge was bringing high speed bandwidth to the server’s connection. We found it difficult to receive sponsorship support, even from some of the not-for-profit organisations created to serve the Internet community of India. This delayed the start of the L-Root instance operations. Finally, a telco agreed to sponsor at a reasonable cost with a condition: the chapter would take the responsibility of completing the final steps of connectivity. These final steps included handling pole climbing, drilling holes, and splicing wires. Volunteer effort and community support made it possible to make the L-Root instance operational.

The technical team working under Anand Raje’s (ISOC Kolkata Vice President) leadership was able to make the connection and the ICANN DNS Engineering team completed the setup. We are now live.

Over the next two days the traffic increased and the bandwidth was unable to handle the traffic. After another series of presentations and approaching local ISPs, an ISP was roped in to support the extra bandwidth.

There was a sense of satisfaction once the issues of bandwidth were resolved. I would like to thank our community and sponsors for working together towards this cause, as well as the ICANN team including Champika Wijayatunga and Samiran Gupta from the ICANN APAC Regional Office, Chris Mondini, and the DNS Engineering team.

 

This is the 2nd instalment of our 3-part APAC Regional Office 4th Anniversary series. If you missed the 1st instalment, you can read it here. Our 3rd instalment is coming soon.

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    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""icann.org"" is not an IDN."