Don Heath <>


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The Domain Name System (DNS) is an essential component in the Internet's operational infrastructure. Designed for locating machines on the Internet, it maps between their human-friendly names and their transport (IP) addresses. Machine names are a series of textual fields, representing a registration and lookup hierarchy. Each registry in the hiearchy is delegated authority from the registry above. A number of "Top Level Domain" (TLD) registries already exist: one for each country, and a small number which are international (iTLD) such as .com, .org and .net. For more than ten years the set of TLD registries was stable and sufficient. The recent explosive commercialization of the Internet has produced a requirement for enhanced assignment procedures. A complicating factor is that the human-friendly quality of Domain Name strings has also made them commercially valuable. The IAHC is an international multi-organization effort for specifying and implementing policies and procedures relating to iTLD.

Membership in the IAHC comprises a broad range of legal, administrative, operations and technical constituencies. Representatives come from organizations that sponsor TLD administration, sponsor similar international activities, review and define relevant international legal matters, provide Internet service, and develop Internet technologies and products.

Proper operation of TLDs is essential for the smooth running of the Internet. This includes both administration of domain name assignments, as well as the real-time behavior of the distributed lookup service which achieves DNS mappings for client software. Further, the topic of iTLDs has become controversial and includes potentially large financial implications. For its specification effort, the IAHC will operate in the style of an Internet standards "design team", formulating criteria and procedures but seeking review, modification and consensus from the rest of the Internet community. Internet standards are developed according to the principal of "rough consensus" which means a strongly dominant sense of preference within the community that is seeking to achieve forward progress, in spite of differing opinions.

The DNS is an international resource and the IAHC will at all times operate with that perspective. The IAHC specification effort will address legal, administrative, technical and operational concerns, with particular attention to the questions of fairness and functional stability. The IAHC will attempt to define procedures which are as simple, fair and direct as possible, resolving the minimum required issues. In order to provide timely results, the IAHC will focus initally on the issues of highest priority.


Nov 11, 96 Publish IAHC charter & press release
Solicit near-term iTLD policy & procedure proposals
Dec 19, 96 IAHC selected proposal available for public review
Jan 1, 97 Last day to submit reviews of proposal
Jan 15, 97 Near-term iTLD Policies & Procedures published
Implementation group formed for reviews and awards
Feb 10, 97 Deadline for applications according to new policiesand procedures
Mar 1, 97 Initial awards according to new policies and procedures

Last updated November 20, 1996. Report problems to