To be able to access a web page, we simply enter the domain name in the browser. Although we do this every day and it seems very normal to us, several organizations are working hard to make it possible. One of these institutions is the IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority).

What is the IANA?

The IANA plays an essential role in the management of the Internet, as it is responsible for assigning names and unique Internet number systems form the basis for addressing web pages. Although the Internet is not a centrally managed network, some basic components need to be coordinated on a global scale. This activity was handled by the IANA with the ARPANET, making it one of the oldest institutions on the Internet.

Assigning numbers

The IANA coordinates the global pool of IP numbers and the so-called autonomous system numbers (ASN), which are assigned in blocks of addresses to the five regional Internet registries (RIRs). There are currently 5 RIRs in operation:

  • American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) for the United States and Canada.
  • RIPE Network Coordination Center (RIPE NCC) for Europe, the Middle East, and Central Asia.
  • Asia-Pacific Network Information Center (APNIC) for Asia and the Pacific Region.
  • Latin American and Caribbean Internet Address Registry (LACNIC) for Latin America and the Caribbean.
  • African Network Information Center (AfriNIC) for Africa

There are currently two types of IP addresses: IPv4 and IPv6. With the new IP IPv6 standard, a greater number of unique IP addresses can be generated, although IPv4 addresses are the most used in the world today, they are already exhausted and everything must be changed to IPv6 addresses soon. These changes are an example of the importance of the IANA and the organizations that comprise it.

Domain names

The IANA operates and coordinates the DNS root zone, that is the domain name system, whose levels make up the full domain names (top-level domains, second-level domains, and subdomains). The IANA also manages the database with all the top-level domains (TLD, Top Level Domain), these are the last part of the full domain name.

In addition, the IANA is responsible for centrally collecting internationalized domain names or authorized IDNs. IDNs are domain names that include characters such as umlauts, accents, or letters from alphabets other than the Latin alphabet. Although at first they were not allowed, the use of special characters became a reality with the creation of the Internet-standard known as Internationalization of Domain Names in Applications (IDNA), which arises as a result of the great growth of the Internet and its internationalization.

What role does ICANN play?

Since 1998, the IANA has been constituted as a section of ICANN, an organization also made up of other groups that represent different interests on the Internet and participate together in decision-making. Currently Alejandra Reynoso, one of the key members of the .GT Registry, is the president of the ccNSO, one of the groups that support ICANN, which reaffirms our commitment to the Internet and its users.