Words from the IAB Chair

By: Bernard Aboba

Date: July 1, 2013

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Closing the Circle

This will be my last update to the community as chair of the Internet Architecture Board (IAB). It was a busy two years for the IAB—including dealing with administrative aspects, such as the development and implementation of RFC Series Model v2,1,2 as well as the development of documentation and supplemental agreements3 as part of the U.S. NTIA award of the IANA function contract to ICANN. In addition, during the last two years the IAB developed revised liaison relationship agreements with both the ITU-T4 and IEEE 802,5 and developed programs relating to aspects of the Internet’s technical evolution, such as privacy, internationalization and emergency services.

Over the last two years with the reorganization of the IAB and the implementation of the Program Model, the IAB improved its ability to simultaneously handle its administrative, liaison, and technical responsibilities. At the same time, with a new website, the hiring of Cindy Morgan as IAB administrative assistant, and the appointment of Mary Barnes as IAB executive director, the IAB expanded its ability to keep the community up-to-date on its activities.

As governments worldwide struggle to adapt to the technical, economic, and political forces brought to bear by the Internet, the need for the IAB to provide expert technical analysis and administrative oversight has never been greater. At IETF 86, the IAB selected Russ Housley as IAB chair—the leadership of the IAB is in very capable hands.


In March, the nomcom announced its IAB appointments.6 Incoming IAB members include Russ Housley (former IETF chair), Andrew Sullivan, Eliot Lear, and Xing Li;  outgoing IAB members include David Kessens, Danny McPherson, and Jon Peterson.  The IAB thanks David, Danny, and Jon for their service.

Prior to IETF 86, the IAB announced a Call for Nominations to the ISOC Board of Trustees,7 as well as for the IETF Liaison to the ICANN Board of Directors.8 Feedback on the nominees were made, interviews were scheduled and conducted, and the IAB made its selections, which will be announced shortly.

With the conclusion of the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) and the update to the IETF/ITU-T liaison relationship document, the IAB announced that it will be scaling back the ITU-T Coordination Program.9 As a result of Eliot Lear’s appointment to the IAB, the role of IETF liaison manager to the ITU-T needed to be filled, and the IAB announced that it replaced Eliot with Scott Mansfield.10 Scott’s appointment left his former position as Liaison Manager for MPLS open, and the IAB issued a call for volunteers for that position.11 The IAB also announced that Monique Morrow is stepping down as IETF liaison manager to the ITU-T for Next Generation Networking (NGN).12 On behalf of the Internet Community, the IAB thanks Eliot, Scott, and Monique for their service.


At IETF 86, the IAB organized several events relating to the technical, regulatory and policy challenges involved in the transition of the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) to IP.

The IETF 86 Technical Plenary, organized by Hannes Tschofenig and myself, included the presentation, “Transitioning the PSTN to IP,” by Dr. Henning Schulzrinne, chief technical officer of the Federal Communications Commission.13 Dr. Schulzrinne noted that the transition from public switched telephone network (PSTN) to Internet protocol (IP), which is unlikely to include a cut-over date, includes three simultaneous technology transitions: from copper to fibre, from wired to wireless, and from circuits to packets. In addition to technical issues (i.e., reliability and quality, public safety (911 and 112 services), numbering and trustable identifiers, universal service, and expansion beyond voice), the transition involves economic and public policy considerations. As a supplement to Dr. Schulzrinne’s talk, which focused on the United States, the IAB provided a wiki covering PSTN transition issues occurring elsewhere in the world.14 A detailed report on the plenary is available on page XX in this issue.

In December 2012 the ITU-T held the World Conference on Telecommunication (WCIT) in Dubai. WCIT-12 focused on the update of the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs), which were last updated in 1988. At IETF 86 Sally Shipman Wentworth presented a session on WCIT,15 with Joel Halpern and Ross Callon acting as moderators. As noted by the audience at the Technical Plenary, many of the issues arising at WCIT have also come up at the debates within individual nations on the transition from the PSTN to IP.

RFC Editor

Also during the IETF 86 Technical Plenary, Heather Flanagan gave an update on “RFC Series Format Requirements and Future Development,”16 which covers potential enhancements to the (request for comments) RFC Series format, such as support for Unicode, complex diagrams and other enhancements. The document,17 which had been discussed on the RFC-Interest list,18 was approved by the IAB for publication later in the week.19

IAB Programs

Several IAB Programs have completed major milestones since IETF 85. Within the Internationalization Program, work was completed on “Principles for Unicode Code Point Inclusion in Labels in the DNS,”20and “Issues in Identifier Comparison for Security Purposes,”21 both of which were approved for publication as Informational RFCs within the IAB stream. Within the Privacy Program, “Privacy Considerations for Internet Protocols”22 completed IETF-wide Call for Comment; discussion on the document (and next steps) takes place on the IETF Privacy mailing list.23 The IAB also approved publication of “Architectural Considerations on Application Features in the DNS” as an Informational RFC within the IAB stream.24

The IAB adopted two documents as new work items: “Report from the IAB/IRTF Workshop on Congestion Control for Interactive Real-Time Communications”25 and “The IEEE 802/IETF Relationship.”26 Also, “Affirmation of the Modern Paradigm for Standards” was published as RFC 6852.27

Tech Chats

Recent IAB Tech Chats included a December talk on top-level domain (TLD) variants by Andrew Sullivan,28 and a February Tech Chat on the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)  by Thomas Narten.29

Internet History

At IETF 86, the History birds of a feather (BoF) discussed preservation of historical records relating to the development of the Internet. During the IETF 86 Administrative Plenary, a long-forgotten aspect of Internet history was discussed: the IAB debate over “The Internet of Salt Water Taffy.”30 The discussion, which continued despite a lengthy warning from John Klensin that the IAB could “muck up the Internet,” finally ended thanks to the decisive intervention of Russ Housley, who once again demonstrated that he can be rock solid in the most sticky of situations.

However, as one sticky technical debate ended, others inevitably arose to take their place. These include discussion of the use of additional key words in RFCs (e.g., “MUST (But We Know You Won’t)”)31 and the architectural implications of faster-than-light communications.32


1.         RFC Editor Model (Version 2),

2.         Independent Submission Editor Model,

3.         ICANN and IETF Execute Supplemental Agreement,

4.         Internet Engineering Task Force and International Telecommunication Union-Telecommunication Standardization Sector Collaboration Guidelines,

5.         The IEEE 802/IETF Relationship,

6.         Nomcom Announces IAB Appointments,

7.         Call for nominations: IETF Appointment to the ISOC Board of Trustees,

8.         Call for nominations: IETF Liaison to ICANN Board of Directors,

9.         IAB Report,

10.       IAB appoints Scott Mansfield as new IETF Liaison Manager to the ITU-T,

11.       Call for volunteers for IETF ITU-T Liaison Manager for MPLS,

12.       Thank you to Monique Morrow,

13.       IETF 86 Technical Plenary Topic: The End of Plain Old Telephone Service, ì

14.       IETF 86 Technical Plenary: End of POTS,

15.       WCIT: What Happened, What’s Next,

16.       RFC Editor Presentation,

17.       RFC Series Format Requirements and Future Development,

18.       RFC Interest mailing list,

19.       IAB approves publication of RFC Series Format Requirements and Future Development,

20.       Principles for Unicode Code Point Inclusion in Labels in the DNS,

21.       Issues in Identifier Comparison for Security Purposes,

22.       Privacy Considerations for Internet Protocols,

23.       IETF Privacy mailing list,

24.       IAB approves publication of Architectural Considerations on Application Features in the DNS,

25.       IAB Adopts Report from the IAB/IRTF Workshop on Congestion Control for Interactive Real-Time Communications,

26.       IAB adopts The IEEE 802/IETF Relationship,

27.       Affirmation of the Modern Paradigm for Standards, RFC 6852.

28.       ICANN Tech Chat,

29.       IDN TLD Variants Tech Chat,

30.       The Internet of Salt Water Taffy,

31.       Further Key Words for Use in RFCs to Indicate Requirement Levels, RFC 6919

32.       Design Considerations for Faster-Than-Light (FTL) Communication, RFC 6921