Your Internet Consultant - The FAQs of Life Online

1.20. So no one runs the Internet. So then who coordinates the Internet?

A variety of so-called Interent Technical Groups coordinate the Internet's basic workings--how the protocols should talk to one another, how to plan for the Net's future, and other important (but, if you ask me, dull) details of keeping the network alive.

The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) coordinates the operation, management, and evolution of the Internet. The IETF develops and maintains the Internet's communications protocols. The IETF is a large open community of network designers, operators, vendors, and researchers concerned with the Internet and the Internet protocols. This group identifies the Internet's technical and operational problems and proposes solutions, specifies the development of protocols to solve those problems, and provides a forum for the exchange of technical information within the Internet community.

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The Internet Research Task Force (IRTF) examines long-term research problems and technical issues currently affecting the Internet. The task force looks at issues that will become important in five to ten years. Current issues include how the Internet will handle a billion users (a rapidly approaching landmark) and how current users will be affected when 100 million U.S. homes are wired for Internet via cable television by the end of this century.

The Internet Architecture Board (IAB) is the master body for technical changes to the Internet. The IAB is concerned with technical and policy issues involving the evolution of the Internet's architecture. AIB members are committed to making the Internet function effective and to making sure the Net evolves to meet a large-scale, high-speed future. Formed in 1983, the IAB oversees the IETF and IRTF and ratifies major changes that come from them.

The IAB performs the following functions:

Reviews Internet standards.

Manages the publication process of Request for Comment (RFC) documents.

Performs strategic planning for the Internet, identifying long-range problems and opportunities.

Acts as an international technical policy liaison and representative for the Internet community.

Resolves technical issues which cannot be treated within the IETF or IRTF frameworks.

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