Connected: An Internet Encyclopedia
Internet Organization

Up: Connected: An Internet Encyclopedia
Up: Topics
Prev: Internet History
Next: Concepts

Internet Organization

Internet Organization

The Internet, a loosely-organized international collaboration of autonomous, interconnected networks, supports host-to-host communication through voluntary adherence to open protocols and procedures defined by Internet Standards. There are also many isolated internets, i.e., sets of interconnected networks, which are not connected to the Internet but use the Internet Standards. (RFC 1602)

Nobody really owns or controls the Internet. Rather, participation in the Internet derives from voluntary participation in Internet Standards. Many Internet providers not only adhere to these standards, but make access to their networks available to the public. It is the voluntary interconnection and cooperation of these providers that forms the global Internet. Currently (early 1996), approximately 300 service providers are interconnected to form the Internet.

Internet Society (ISOC)

The Internet Society (ISOC) is a professional society that is concerned with the growth and evolution of the worldwide Internet, with the way in which the Internet is and can be used, and with the social, political, and technical issues which arise as a result. The ISOC Trustees are responsible for approving appointments to the IAB from among the nominees submitted by the IETF nominating committee. (RFC 1718)

ISOC maintains a web page at The ISOC Executive Directory can be contacted at

Internet Architecture Board (IAB)

The Internet Architecture Board (IAB) is a technical advisory group of the ISOC. It is chartered to provide oversight of the architecture of the Internet and its protocols, and to serve, in the context of the Internet standards process, as a body to which the decisions of the IESG may be appealed. The IAB is responsible for approving appointments to the IESG from among the nominees submitted by the IETF nominations committee. (RFC 1718)

The IAB can be contacted at

Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG)

The Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG) is responsible for technical management of IETF activities and the Internet standards process. As part of the ISOC, it administers the process according to the rules and procedures which have been ratified by the ISOC Trustees. The IESG is directly responsible for the actions associated with entry into and movement along the Internet "standards track," including final approval of specifications as Internet Standards.

The IESG can be contacted at

Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)

The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) is a loosely self-organized group of people who make technical and other contributions to the engineering and evolution of the Internet and its technologies. It is the principal body engaged in the development of new Internet standard specifications. Its mission includes:

The IETF is divided into eight functional areas. They are: Applications, Internet, Network Management, Operational Requirements, Routing, Security, Transport and User Services. Each area has one or two area directors. The area directors, along with the IETF/IESG Chair, form the IESG.

Each area has several working groups. A working group is a group of people who work under a charter to achieve a certain goal. That goal may be the creation of an Informational document, the creation of a protocol specification, or the resolution of problems in the Internet. Most working groups have a finite lifetime. That is, once a working group has achieved its goal, it disbands. As in the IETF, there is no official membership for a working group. Unofficially, a working group member is somebody who is on that working group's mailing list; however, anyone may attend a working group meeting. (RFC 1718)

IETF and its various working groups maintain numerous mailing lists. To join the IETF announcement list, send a request to To join the IETF discussion list, send a request to

Internet Assigned Number Authority (IANA)

Many protocol specifications include numbers, keywords, and other parameters that must be uniquely assigned. Examples include version numbers, protocol numbers, port numbers, and MIB numbers. The IAB has delegated to the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) the task of assigning such protocol parameters for the Internet. The IANA publishes tables of all currently assigned numbers and parameters in RFCs titled "Assigned Numbers". (RFC 1602)

The IANA maintains a web page at and can be contacted at

RFC Editor

Each distinct version of a specification is published as part of the "Request for Comments" (RFC) document series. This archival series is the official publication channel for Internet standards documents and other publications of the IESG, IAB, and Internet community. RFCs are available for anonymous FTP from a number of Internet hosts.

The RFC series of documents on networking began in 1969 as part of the original ARPA wide-area networking (ARPANET) project (see Appendix A for glossary of acronyms). RFCs cover a wide range of topics, from early discussion of new research concepts to status memos about the Internet. RFC publication is the direct responsibility of the RFC Editor, under the general direction of the IAB. (RFC 1602)

The RFC Editor maintains a web page at and can be contacted at


InterNIC, the Internet Network Information Center, has two major components. AT&T provides Directory and Database Services, most importantly the Internet White Pages, used by the Whois program to locate people, networks, and domains. Network Solutions, Inc. provides Registration Services, including domain name registration. Originally funded by NSF, InterNIC is becoming self-sufficient.

InterNIC maintains a web page at

Next: Concepts

Connected: An Internet Encyclopedia
Internet Organization