ITU: Grabbing a piece of the IPv6 pie?

ITU (the organization formerly known as CCITT) is having a bit of a relevance problem these days: its flagship technological achievements, including X.25, ISDN, ATM and SDH are dead or headed toward oblivion … and a former pariah, a group of geeks, is stealing the show and rolling out the Internet. No wonder their bureaucrats are having a hard time figuring out how to justify their existence. For years they’ve been lamenting how much they’ve contributed to the Internet (highly recommended reading for Monty Python fans) and how their precious contributions were unacknowledged. Now they came forth with a “wonderful” idea: the history of IPv4 address allocation proves that the wealthy nations and early adopters managed to grab disproportionate parts of the IPv4 address space (well, that’s true), so they made it their mission to protect the poor and underdeveloped countries in the brave new IPv6 world. In short, they want to become an independent address allocation entity (RIR). It looks like another worldwide bureaucracy is exactly what we need on top of all the other problems we have with IPv6 deployment.

Obviously there’s no need for ITU-operated RIR, it’s a too-obvious power grab plot, but it finally pushed NRO, ICANN (and all regional registries) to develop a fact sheet explaining the relevant IPv6 facts and address allocation process in layman terms. This document was forwarded to ITU together with an “interesting” cover letter (a must-read).

If you want to know the gory details, read the transcript notes of the RIPE-59 meeting (the interesting parts start in the second half with the presentation by Nick Thorne)

However, this is not a new development. Their quest started years ago with two ideas: either independent national registries or ITU-as-a-registry (see the Competition in IPv6 Addressing report) and was reignited this year when it became obvious widespread IPv6 deployment is imminent. The “IPv6 Public Policy Considerations” presentation by ITU Deputy Secretary General is full of subtle and not-so-subtle hints about the need for deeper ITU involvement in the IPv6 deployment process.

You simply have to go through that presentation. Even if you don’t want to know its contents, its copious selection of colors and fonts will enhance your inner artistic self (Health warning: prolonged exposure might cause uncontrolled laughter). One also has to wonder whether ITU sees WWW as anything more than a delivery mechanism for Microsoft Office files.

The whole thing would be laughable if it wouldn’t be dead serious: information like the above-mentioned presentation is distributed to national members of ITU. If these members have limited exposure to the actual IPv6 issues, they might act according to the ITU recommendations … and this is where you can step in: spread the word. Educate. Talk about IPv6. Explain it … but keep it simple ;)

Last but not least, hat tip to Jan Žorž for bringing this issue to my attention. If only he’d finally realize he needs to write a bilingual blog


  1. rtsp://

    Here is the video recording of Thorne's speech at Cooperation WG on RIPE. Just skip to 42:15

    Yes, Ivan, I'm seriously considering doing in multilanguage, thnx for giving me an additional push for really doing that...

  2. Forgot to add my .2 cents worth, I'm not by default against the idea of "national authority" in means of IP distribution, this mess should be sorted out one way or another, we don't need 76 LIRs in Slovenia...

    But that issue should be solved by RIR, not ITU. People get old, retire and die, ITU got old and useless.

  3. Superficially this looks like a play by the Chinese Government to take control for IPv6 addressing and control it for themselves. The author is clearly Chinese and appear to be operating along party political lines. Which is consistent with the way that the Chinese Government has acted elsewhere and thus makes the conclusion logical.

    That said, the current process is working, is independent and has global acceptance. The question of how much longer the entire world will allow the US governement (light touch be damned) to run the Internet seems to be a major issue. If the Islamic and Asian sub-continents join together then change is likely to be coming. And, equally, the Americans are going to whinge and whine all the way.

    It's gonna be fun.

    The ITU is unworkable however because it is easily manipulated by political issues. I don't want to see a return of the old telecommunications standards because some government wants to encourage a locally developed technology.
  4. The story is not over yet, after IGF in Egypt ITU still insist on having their v6 piece of pie. Now they presented their visions in slightly different format, but under cover everything is still just obvious crap. As would my friend Randy say: "this stuff is hard enough without bullshit" :)

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