Network Solutions Inc, the company that is licensed by the US federal government to assign the .com, .net and .org top-level domain names, has split out its IP address registration activities from its domain name work, into something called the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN). NSI first mooted this idea back in January, and intends to fund ARIN for six months before setting it out on its own. The InterNIC comprises NSI, AT&T Corp and the federal National Science Foundation (NSF), which is the body that gave NSI it’s license for the domain names. That license expires at the end of March 1998, at which time anything could happen; there are numerous arguments raging within the internet community as to who gets the right to register what, when and for how long, which is another story. The motivation for establishing ARIN to do the work that is currently the preserve of the InterNIC IP differs depending on whom you believe. The NSF says it is an acknowledgement that the internet is now a commercial entity and was requested by unspecified members of the community the NSF had consulted over the past 18 months. NSI appoints the members of ARIN’s for the first 12 minths, within which time there must be an election of a new board by members. NSI naturally says it is a good idea, but it probably would, as the deal takes responsibility for IP numbering away from it and increasese its margins. There are about seven people moiving from NSI to ARIN, plus all the systems needed to maintain the registry. NSI senior VP Don Telage freely admits this will improve the company’s margins. ARIN will charge for a service that NSI provided for free. There wil lbe a $1,000 annual members fee – they will be mostly ISPs and large organizations, although membership is not a requirement to get address space from ARIN. Membership entitles the subcrober to attend two meetings a year. ISPs and organizations that want their own address space are likely to be charged around $2,500 and $20,000 depending on the amount of address space allocated. Individuals are likely to be charged up to about $10,000. ARIN should be established within three months, after which there will be a further three months of parallel operation with the InterNIC parties and then it’s on its own. Telage reckons the membership and other fees should be sufficent to raise to the $2m to $3m neede to run ARIN. Some in the internet community have questioned why there is only one registry and exactly how much of the address space ARIN will have avaialble to it. There is only a finite anount of space at the moment, although there is a 16-bit IPv6 standard in the works that will allow the world to accommodate 131 million digital devices per every square foot of the earth.