The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) is a department of ICANN responsible for coordinating some of the key elements that keep the Internet running smoothly. Whilst the Internet is renowned for being a worldwide network free from central coordination, there is a technical need for some key parts of the Internet to be globally coordinated, and this coordination role is undertaken by IANA.
Specifically, IANA allocates and maintains unique codes and numbering systems that are used in the technical standards (“protocols”) that drive the Internet.
IANA’s various activities can be broadly grouped in to three categories:
IANA manages the DNS Root, the .int and .arpa domains, and an IDN practices resource.
IANA coordinates the global pool of IP and AS numbers, providing them to Regional Internet Registries.
Internet protocols’ numbering systems are managed by IANA in conjunction with standards bodies.
IANA is one of the Internet's oldest institutions, with its activities dating back to the 1970s. Today it is a set of services provided by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, an internationally-organised non-profit organisation set up by the Internet community to help coordinate IANA’s areas of responsibilities.
This statement describes the role of the IANA Department:
- The IANA team is responsible for the operational aspects
of coordinating the Internet’s unique identifiers and maintaining the trust
of the community to provide these services in an unbiased, responsible and
IANA aims not to directly set policy by which it operates, instead implementing agreed policies and principles in a neutral and responsible manner. Using the policy setting forums provided by ICANN, policy development for domain name operations and IP addressing is arrived at by many different stakeholders. ICANN has a structure of supporting organisations that contribute to deciding how ICANN runs, and in turn how IANA develops. The development of Internet protocols, which often dictate how protocol assignments should be managed, are arrived at within the Internet Engineering Task Force, the Internet Engineering Steering Group, and the Internet Architecture Board.
To improve its operations, IANA is actively involved in outreach too. As well as in ICANN forums, IANA participates in meetings and discussions with TLD operators, Regional Internet Registries, and other relevant communities. The Authority provides a manned helpdesk at IETF meetings to allow one-to-one interaction with its largest community of users – protocol developers.
Informational Booklet (PDF, 22 pages)
A booklet providing a general overview of the IANA functions
Webinar: "Who, What, Why of the IANA Functions” (Recorded June 2015)