Dot Coms & such in other countries

Dear Teeming 1*10^6s

A few of us were sitting around the MRE heater the other day, and pondered this notion: We know there is an agency in the US that handles assigning IP addresses to named “dot coms, orgs, nets, etc.” How does it work in other countries? Is there some international agreement or treaty? What gives the right of the US to determine that someone in Spain can’t use a particular “dot com” because someone in Pago Pago already did?

Get my drift? I need to stay away from the food. Bad food, sit still . . .

Each country (except the US) has a two-letter code that appears in their email addresses. For instance, the UK is … um… “.uk”, amazingly enough. Some of them are less comprehensible than others. So there could be a for a US, and a in Australia.

The topic of international trademark, patent, and copyright is a messy one. And it will get messier, since the internet is (let’s face it) not subject to national boundaries.

Dex is right about the other country domains. The .com, .edu, .org and .net domains were IIRC in the control of Network Solutions, Inc. which used to be called internic. .gov is in the control of the US Government. Just recently (1 year ago? 2?) the government removed NSI’s exclusive rights to the most well known .com etc. domains, effectively de-monopolizing the hold on these domains.

So, in answer to your question “What gives the US the right to determine someone from spain can’t use”, I say “Because Al Gore invented the internet right here in the USA.”

OK, just kidding about Al. The basic idea is that the internet started off being controlled by the US government, which then gave NSI control, and now it is much less strictly controlled. It’s all first come first served, but all the good names are already taken so everyone who doesn’t already have their domain name is probably out of luck to get a .com. There are some rules about blatantly registering a copyright in order to infringe it, but other than that it’s anything goes.

Dex is definitely right on target about the intellectual property quagmire.

Each country except the US is assigned a two-letter country code, and I believe each country decides the internal hierarchy. Most countries use .co.?? for commercial sites, so Yahoo UK is Some countries have less structured systems and allows (and sells) ridiculous vanity addresses such as (.to is Tonga).

Come to think of it, I think there’s a .us as well. Who uses those?

I just got a great .com vanity domain for my birthday last month. (You can see what I did with it at They’re not all taken.

The husband unit used to do some work for the folks in charge of .no, which is Norway’s top-level domain (TLD). They have some fairly strict rules, so while they have approved, I’m afraid is right out.

There was supposed to be a point to this post, but it seems to have fallen onto the floor and rolled underneath the bookshelf.

Mostly state and local governments including public schools other than post-secondary institutions which use .edu.

try they have a list of country abrrev’s

The UK uses for commercial sites, although .net and .com are just as popular, for academic establishments and for government bodies.

Australia uses

you think you got lucky? I registered on labor day. I couldn’t believe it wasn’t taken…

Sooooo, what I’m gathering here, is that the US started a convention with the country codes, but each country regulates the “” within it’s own country code.


I might be wrong, but I think people have misinterpreted the OP. Of course, it was a bit unclear (no offense)…

Anyways, I thought he was asking about IP addresses themselves, not domain names. And even if he wasn’t, now I’m curious and wondering about it. I know that in the US Network Solutions gives out blocks of IP addresses in response to requests for them (or at least used to, I’m not sure if this was changed when the NSF allowed other companies to begin registering domain names), but how is it done in other countries?

It seems as if the assigning of IP blocks would require some international cooperation that domain names do not. For instance, if some company in Germany and I both want the domain hithereimadomain, there’s no problem; he gets and I get (or .net or whatever the case may be). But what if we both apply for a block of C class addresses at the same time? Wouldn’t the assigning body in the US need to know that they can’t give me as the relevant German agency just gave that to a company there? Or have all the available IP addresses already been divided up among various countries to dole out as people in those countries need them?

Looks like you guys did answer the OP correctly. In my defense, the use of the term “IP addresses” threw me. Still, on a bit of a hijack now, I’d be interested if anyone has an answer to my question.

IP addresses are not allocated in the same manner as domain names. Generally, you get the IP address first, set up your local DNS server to point your new domain name to it, and register this DNS server’s name and IP address with the appropriate registrar. You generally get the IP address from the entitiy that connects the computer in question to the Internet. They get them in turn from the entity that connects them to the Internet (i.e. the large backbones like AT&T, Sprint, and MCI in the US).

BTW, there is nothing to prevent one IP address from supporting multiple host names. Many hosting companies use this trick.

WAG: when you request a domain name, the company you’re going through checks the availability of the name (including the suffix). All bets are off until it’s clear that the name’s available and the request is processed by ICANN (or Network Solutions, or whoever). The WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organisation) is the current arbitration body in case of disputes, although allegedly more because of heavy-handedness and a tendency to favour “the big boys” in decisions than for any other reason.

IP addresses are not assigned to domain names. It’s the other way around. Anybody with a credit card can have a .com, .net, or .org in any country. .gov is controlled by the US government. .edu is controlled by a seperate organization and are given free to any accredited university that wants one. In addition, all countries have their two letter country code and are responsible for maintaining it themselves. The US also has .us, which is used mostly for state government agencies, though according to the charter, anybody can get one for a nominal fee. (The .us domain breaks down by state and locality, for example, the New York City transit system is

A private business in New York City can also get a domain if he wants; he has to get it from whoever is in charge of But those are not very popular for businesses anyway.

Every other country has it’s own system for dealing with their geographical domains. The UK uses for commercial entities. (Again, someone in the UK can get a .com if they want.)

Sorry, Amok

To answer your core question, yes, all possible IP addresses have been allocated. Many are held in reserve and many others have special meanings (a very long and boring subject), but all the usuable ones have been allocated to the major backbones around the world. They in turn reallocate them as needed.

I’m aware of that. However, that doesn’t change the fact that you need a IP address to start with, and that who gets what IP addresses has to be determined in some way. That was my question (though apparently it wasn’t Tripler’s).

Alright, this addresses my question, but… I was under the impression that, at least a few years ago (the last time I spent some time checking), A and B class addresses were all but impossible to get anymore, having all been assigned out, but C class addresses were still available through Internic. I just went to Network Solutions’ website and I don’t see anything about obtaining IP addresses on it, so I guess that has been changed, but have all C class addresses been assigned at this point?

And was Internic was the only assigning body ever, so that telecoms from other countries (like, say, British Telecom) had to obtain A class IP addresses from them?

In Europe, the organization called RIPE is responsible for IP address allocation. The process is nontrivial, but in essence, what happens is this:

If you’re an ISP, you can reserve a block of IP addresses, even a a huge block - perhaps 128 class C networks. This is a tricky process - you have to convince RIPE that you will indeed need those IP addresses, specify how many you need now, in a year, in two years etc. Actually, just having the IP addresses isn’t enough - to communicate on the Internet backbone, you have to run a routing protocol called BGP, and this protocol is based on a concept called Autonomous Systems, so you’ll need an AS-number as well.

The addresses will be reserved to your AS, but are not yet allocated. When you start building your network and getting customers, you allocate addresses from your reserved block. Allocations have to be approved by RIPE. If you’re a good boy and convince RIPE that you’re not wasting addresses, you might eventually earn the right to allocate smaller networks without prior notification - but you still have to do the paperwork (well, it’s electronic now) for each network, and RIPE can still overrule your decisions, perform audits etc.

Right - when your ISP has built a network, established upstream connections and established BGP routing to the rest of the world, in effect telling the rest of the Internet that “we’ll handle traffic to those addresses”, it’s time to attach customers, get some traffic and write some bills. A company customer might be allocated (for instance) 32 IP addresses from your reserved address space.

These IP addresses still belong to the ISP - if the customer moves to another ISP, he’ll have to stop using the addresses.

This is done to minimize the size of the address tables in the backbone routers (although the tables are certainly big enough).

So - RIPE has registered that the customer is currently using the addresses, and that your ISP is responsible for handling the traffic. Internally, you make sure that your routers know where to lead the traffic. Externally, you announce the addresses to the world at large via BGP.

And that’s more or less it. Of course, the customer will want DNS entries etc., but that’s another story.

Did that make sense at all ?

S. Norman

Yeah, it does. I guess the answer is that all the usuable IP addresses (classes A, B, and C) were devided up among the various assigning bodies at some point (it’s not clear to me when this happened or how they decided who got what) and then the assigning bodies parceled the addresses out to those who need them. In the case of class A addresses, those blocks went to large backbone providers, and many class B addresses probably went to those companies as well, or to large ISPs. Class C addresses tend to go to smaller ISPs and such, and may still be gotten from the allocating body for your area.

I think that high-level allocation of IP addresses is under the control of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA). They also regulate what well-known TCP and UDP port numbers are for and things of that sort.

The whole class A, B, C IP address thing is pretty much obsolete. AFAIK, nobody is giving out class A or B addresses anymore. They weren’t assigned very efficiently when they were given out, either. For instance, my college has an entire class B (that’s >65,000 IP addresses) even though there are at most a couple thousand computers on campus. We basically got a class B because we got networked early on. I think MIT has a class A (>24,000,000 IP addresses) which is a total waste.

Anyway, now we have classless routing protocols (CIDR–Classless Inter-Domain Routing) that can group several contiguous class C blocks into one autonomous system as Spiny Norman describes, so address class doesn’t really matter anymore.