March 1st, 2006


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The highlight of the day should goes to Geoff Hutson’s keynote on Convergence. Geoff as I noted previously has a talent for writing and giving really good speeches. A short summary:

1. Convergence is something the industry has always being doing constantly.
2. Triple Play is game over. Bittorrent has won!
3. What your users wants may not be what you want. But focus on doing what your users want you to do – shuffle the bits!
4. All the exciting stuff is happening above the network so stop trying to build smarter network.

(3) is similar to what I had said before: “Stick to what you do best (within your layer) and you will still make your money, in ways you never expect to be in future.

Oh, one slide is particularly interesting


As you can see, the market already redistribute to value applications service providers and the supplier higher than infrastructure providers. :-)

I agreed with almost everything he said and I doubt I could do a better job in delivering that message. If you are interested, here are his slides which is an adaption of his paper published at ISP Column.

March 1st, 2006

China’s alt. root? Panic over confusion


Last night, after dinner hosted by Mao Wei, I got this email from Dave’s Interesting-People: “China To Launch Alternate Country Code Domains”. It was funny because no one said anything about the BIG news during dinner but nevermind, I could clarify with them in the morning.

By morning, this little email turn into small discussion on IPer and a dozen of bloggers jump at it. Three of those even made it on CircleID (gosh, do u need to have 3 articles on the same topic?) I spoke to Prof. Qian and he said has no idea (apparently he was also asked during his board conf call) until Mao Wei step in to clarify.

So anyway, here is the story which I send to IPer, hopefully Dave will post it when he wakes up (I mean literally!).

Hi Dave,

Just saw this news and find it funny because I just had dinner with Mao Wei and Prof. Qian last night (Mao is the Executive Director of CNNIC). To be exact, they have no idea of the news as they are in Perth right now. But after showing them the news and speaking to them, this is what I gathered.

The focus of the news is actually the launch of .MIL.CN, a new 2LD CNNIC is launching which requires a change in their Article. As a matter of procedure, they announced the revise Article that includes the the policy for the three Chinese TLD for .NET, .COM and .CN (网络,公司,中国). The Chinese TLDs was actually added 3 years ago in 2003. It is hardly news now.

It has been in operation for 3 years now as you can see from

In practice, they did not actually use any alternative/parellel root. Instead, when someone registered a domain name like 联想.公司, what they get is 联想.公司.cn and the append of .cn is done automatically by the client resolution.

Dave, hope you can help to clarify this issue. The news is just .MIL.CN.

-James Seng

Like Ian Peter said: “There will be a few embarrassed editorials out there, but otherwise it’s business as usual.”

Sometimes it is better to ask first before pressing the panic button. I would seriously lmao if I see this on Washington Post or NYT tomorrow :-)

February 26th, 2006


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I missed my flight from Singapore to Perth. It was really silly; I was doing my email in the lounge and I forgot the time :( By the time I ran to the gate, they just closed it. *sigh* The next available flight was at 9:30am the next day, so I ended up having to stay at the transit hotel for a night. That’s was really werid.

Anyway, as I only arrived in Perth in the afternoon, I missed the APCAUCE regional update on antispam activities. *sigh*

But not too late to join the APRICOT workshop reception. While there were only 50+ people attending the pre-conference workshop, seem like everyone was pretty happy with the workshop. And the dinner was good.

Over dinner, Bill Manning mentioned that the DoC is doing a request for information on IANA. It was quite werid because I cannot find it on NTIA website. Anyway, the request for information can be found at FBO website instead. Particularly, note this “The Department of Commerce, National Telecommunications and Information Administration (DOC/NTIA) is exploring options for Contractor performance of three, interdependent technical Internet coordinating functions.“.

Not too sure what it means but my gut feeling says this is pretty significant.

Btw, a couple of people gave me funny looks when I login to Warcraft. Speaking of which, you might be interested to check out some news on our guild: C|net and 1Up, both got Slashdotted. It’s a really cool guild. Just a couple days ago, after a semi-successful run with some guildies, Joi whispered me: “You know the warrior in your group? It would be funny for you to know he is John Crain from ICANN.” John and me know each another…we just didn’t know each another in the game :-)

October 3rd, 2005

Neustar and .GPRS

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Ever since Neustar announced they signed a deal with GSMA to oversea global database for the mobile operators last week (see also Washington Post), there are many debates about the deal online.

“Neustar, a company that should certainly know better, has announced that they’re going to create a .gprs TLD to serve the mobile phone industry This, of course, requires creation of a private root zone, against the very strong warnings in RFC 2826” said Steven Bellovin.

To the more supportive John Levine: “This isn’t quite as stupid as it seems. The GSM industry needs some way to maintain its roaming user database, the database is getting considerably more complicated with 3G features, and it looks to me like they made a reasonable decision to use DNS over IP to implement it rather than inventing yet another proprietary distributed database.”

Even Paul Vixie who has been one of the most vocal opponents of alt. root chipped in, albeit in a slightly positive tone to many people surprise: “oh and one more thing. a small technical matter, insignificant next to the democracy-related points you raised. neustar isn’t doing anything wrong– the “root” they’ll operate will only be seen by GPRS cell towers, not by end-user handsets.”

Let’s start by clarifying what Neustar is doing1: they are providing a global distributed database for SIP URLs, especially for mobile operators who have implemented IMS (which is essentially modified SIP) using DNS technology. Specifically a variation of ENUM known as Infrastructure ENUM2 that differs from (User) ENUM in its policies: the numbers are delegated to carriers & operators and not end-users . The controversial is that they are using a new TLD called .GRPS using their own alt. root server and many people jumped at the word new TLD and “alt. root”.
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August 28th, 2005

Stories behind .XXX


I wrote about the Fiasco of .XXX few days ago. A casual observer might conclude the following:

1. ICANN board approved .XXX
2. US government (DoC) halt .XXX delegation
3. GAC stepped in one day after (2) to give US governments it some legimitacy

However, there is another different explaination of the realty which is also very plausible.

1. ICANN board didn’t really like .XXX but couldn’t find any ground to reject it.
2. Some GAC members began to express concerns about .XXX only as the delegation date approaches
3. GAC Chair decided to write letter to ICANN which of course, has to be circulate among the members first for approval
4. US DoC decided to send letter one day before GAC does to claim credit for halting .XXX and score some brownies points with the conservatives at home.

Which is the truth? Make your own guesses.

Note: Regardless which version of the truth you believe, it does not change my observation that the fiasco is a lose-lose for ICANN.

August 18th, 2005

Fiasco over .XXX


By now, everyone in the industry already know about the .XXX fiasco. If you don’t, here is a quick summary.

ICANN approved the .XXX delegation to ICMRegistry on 1st June. ICMRegistry announced it will be operational on 16th August.

Michael Gallagher requested Vint Cerf to delay .XXX delegation on 11th August. Michael Gallagher is the Assistant Secretary to DoC and NITA appointed by Bush.

Chairman of GAC, Sharil requested ICANN to delay .XXX delegation on 12th August.

Bush administration scored some brownie points with Pro-Family Group (dated 17th August).

Milton Mueller’s thoughts is also a must read although I am not so certain David Sampson is the invisible-hand behind the fiasco. IMHO, the Bush administration is generally right-wing so with or without Sampson involvement, they probably do what they did anyway.

But the fiasco left me thinking over a few questions:

1. How could a single government unilaterally halt a decision made by an international community? I know ICANN isn’t exactly independent yet but would you expect Tony Blair to be able to do what Bush did?

Unfortunately, ICANN is in this lose-lose position.

If they decide to go ahead with the .XXX delegation (technically they couldn’t anyway without the sign-off by DoC) or they condamn Bush administration over this, they would risk a fallout with US DoC. That’s not a good thing right now given ICANN is trying very hard to demostrate to DoC that they should be independent.

If they decided to halt .XXX delegation (which they did), then the message they send to the international community is never doubt US is ultimately incharge of the DNS, all the TLDs including the ccTLDs that many considered a souvernity right. This will give a lot of ammunitions to those who wish the control of the DNS to be transferred to UN or ITU and at the very least, swing some who is on the fense in this tug-of-war.

I pity ICANN and the losers are all those who believe in industry self-regulation of the DNS.
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April 24th, 2005

Competitive Addressing

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Since Houlin Zhao (Director of ITU-TSB) proposed the country-based approach towards IPv6 allocation, there have been several forums with debates on the topic. As expected, many of the the “Internet people” rejected the idea outright mostly on prejudge bias. Few are able to put forward very concrete answer to ‘but what’s wrong with the idea to have multiple issuing authority technically speaking?

So I am glad when Paul Wilson and Geoff Hutson put together the paper Competitive Addressing:

In the case of the Internet, addressing lies at the very heart of the network. Without a framework of stable, unique and ubiquitous addresses there is no single cohesive network. Without a continuing stable supply of addresses further growth of the network simply cannot be sustained. Without absolute confidence in the continuing stability in this supply chain the communications industry will inevitably be forced to look elsewhere for a suitable technology platform for the needs of networked data communications.

Geoff always like good paper but sometimes a bit difficult to read (his paper has a prerequiste of been both English and IT major which is pretty rare :-). Nevertheless, it is worthwhile to spend a little effort to read it through.

I was one of the few more vocal opponent on the concept of country-based allocation of IP addresses because I believe it only increase country politizing and IP resources wastages. I believe in allocating resources to the places where it is needed the most, not by political boundary.

But lately, I’m questioning if that position is conflicting with my firm belief on free-market and competition. Afterall, Zhou’s proposal does not eliminate the current RIRs IP allocation plan and more competition, more innovation is good for the industry…

April 15th, 2005

Two Congratulations

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Today, Doug Barton of IANA announced that AfriNIC got their first AS (36864-37887) and IPv4 allocation (41/8). That’s mean they are finally operational. Congratulation! It has been a long journey!

I also learnt an old friend Jay Chang was appointed as Deputy CFO of (via xinhuanet and also on forbes). Couldn’t get in touch with him since his CFSB account dont work anymore – but Jay, if you are reading this. Congratulation to you too ;-)

April 12th, 2005

Next on .ASIA


After releasing .travel and .jobs (hey, up for bidding!), ICANN said they will look at .xxx and .asia next. (via Chiao)


Chiao called .ASIA “more or less like a joint venture among APxx organizations”. I say bullshit! Don’t let appearance fool you.

The main person driving .ASIA is Cheng Che-Hoo (Hong Kong). Che-Hoo has a lot of respect and friends in the Asia Internet communty being former CEO of HKNIC, former executive in Level3 Asia, board of APNIC etc. But what most people don’t see is the whole excerise is underwritten by Afilias, including the ICANN bidding fee and most of the expenses incured. In other words, Afilias is trying to repeat their success with .ORG with .ASIA. (which btw, I highly doubt would be a commercial success being a sTLD).

But didn’t .ASIA have a lot of APxx supporting it? Well, yes. As I said, Che-Hoo is well respected here and many initial NICs who joined .ASIA are really giving Che-Hoo their support and not so much .ASIA per say. I know at least one NIC who got into some trouble after they signed the letter of support without their board approval; That’s how far people will go for Che-Hoo.

But subsequently, the tactic to get support is, hmm, how should I put this? Maybe let me describe how it works: .ASIA deal with the NICs is that if you support .ASIA, when registrations comes from your region, we will split the revenue of that registration with you. One way to look at it is ‘hey, profit sharing with the NIC! Good guy!’. But another way to look at this is “If I don’t support them now, I don’t get anything if someone from my region registered with .ASIA”.

So in other words, a perfect manuipulation in Game Theory – the NICs is put in a position where they cannot afford not to support it.

I admire Che-Hoo dedication and I marvel the tactic they used. But no, I strongly disagree .ASIA is a “joint venture” or “partnership” of Asia Pacific organization. Especially one that NICs join because they don’t have a choice and mastermind by someone outside the region.

.ASIA? Yes, lets do it really from Asia. And its do it properly and not play games.

ps: Let me state outright : This is not about anti-Afilias. My position on .ASIA has not changed since beginning of last year.

March 30th, 2005

ITU on Internet Governance

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There is an article on CNet with a misleading title The U.N. thinks about tomorrow’s cyberspace

The International Telecommunication Union is one of the most venerable of bureaucracies. Created in 1865 to facilitate telegraph transmissions, its mandate has expanded to include radio and telephone communications. But the ITU enjoys virtually no influence over the Internet. That remains the province of specialized organizations such as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN; the Internet Engineering Task Force; the World Wide Web Consortium; and regional address registries.

It is important not to equate UN with ITU (an agency under UN). UN is thinking of Internet Governance but it is charted WGIG. It is also important not to equate ICANN as Internet Governance. ICANN is part of the picture but not the whole. These differences maybe subtle but are world apart in the debate on Internet Governance.

Corrections aside, I am extremely happy to hear Zhou say “I do not consider ICANN an enemy…We tried to support ICANN as far as we could but on the other hand you see that ICANN’s mandate seems to be a little bit unclear…“. Now lets see if ICANN community would also play nice.

btw, my position on ICANN and ITU is that both of them are here to stay so please learn to live with each another (as noted in my previous entry).

Incidently, ICANN also just published Telcordia Report on .NET registry. The winner is Verisign.