Interview with Paul Wilson, Director General, APNIC
[Shen Yang]: Please introduce about APNIC
[Paul Wilson]: APNIC is the Regional Internet Registry (or “RIR”) for the Asia Pacific region. So our responsibility is for allocating IP addresses, both IPv4 and IPv6, to the ISPs throughout this region, which includes over 60 countries. We provide services to Internet Service Providers (ISPs) which are members of APNIC, and also to so-called “National Internet Registries” in economies including Mainland China, Japan, Hongkong, Chinese Taipei, Korea, Vietnam and Indonesia. The NIR in Mainland China is CNNIC. NIRs are a very important aspect of APNIC’s structure, and they provide services to many ISPs.
The ISPs of the region rely heavily on APNIC, because without IP addresses they can't connect to the Internet. IP addresses are a critical resource within the Internet, because they are required for sending and receiving all traffic on the network.
[Shen Yang]: What is the difference between IP addresses and domain names?
[Paul Wilson]: IP addresses are the fundamental address of the Internet, while the Domain Name System (or DNS) is actually a service which operates on the Internet. The DNS is a lookup or translation service which allows Internet users to use alphabetic names for Internet sites, rather than numeric addresses. In theory, domain names are easier to remember, however this advantage is experienced most by speakers of English and other languages which can be represented in roman characters.
If we did not have the DNS, the Internet would still operate perfectly well. However users would have to remember IP addresses instead of domain names. This is a fundamental difference, but politically the DNS system is also much more complex because of many complex legal, commercial and sovereignty issues.
[Shen Yang]: How many members up to now does APNIC have?
[Paul Wilson]: Right now we have nearly 1000 ISP members, located in 48 different economies of the Asia Pacific region. There are also 6 NIR members of APNIC, who provide services to at least 1000 more ISPs.
[Shen Yang]: Which member is the biggest in your members?
[Paul Wilson]: Chinese ISPs are very large, and most are in the largest APNIC membership category (which makes them very influential of course). The major licensed ISPs in China are all APNIC members - I'm sure you know them. And of course they are all growing quickly – right now, Greater China is receiving IP addresses faster than any country in the world.
It is no longer true that China has less IP address space that some US organisations, and this has not been true since some time in the year 2000. These days, these are many large ISPs in China, and many of them actually have more IP address space than India and many other countries! China is becoming a large Internet power, and is receiving many many IP addresses.
[Shen Yang]: Is that IPv4 address space? What about IPv6?
[Paul Wilson]: Yes, I am referring to IPv4 of course. But the leading economies in the world for IPv4 allocations are Mainland China, Japan and the USA.
[Shen Yang]: My next book, one chapter is about IPv6, I wish these chapter will include more information about IPv6.
[Paul Wilson]: yes, IPv6 addresses are still being used experimentally, by research and commercial organisations. There's not yet any major deployment of IPv6 networks, but I think that within 2 years time, many network will be operating with IPv6. Particularly in China because you have many mobile phones, and so the IPv6 addresses will be very important for hand phone networks.
[Shen Yang]: How long have you being director for APNIC?
[Paul Wilson]: Nearly 7 years. When I started, there were 5 staff at APNIC and now there are 43. So it has grown a lot in this time. We are now the most active RIR in the world, allocating more addresses than any other region (mostly to China and Japan these days).
[Shen Yang]: APNIC is NGO?
[Paul Wilson]: Yes, of course. It is a non-profit membership organization. I would like to mention that we have recently received recognition from the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) as an NGO in consultative status.
The APNIC Executive Council (effectively a Board of Directors) is directly elected by the membership of APNIC, and it includes 2 members from Mainland China, and 1 member each from Hongkong, Chinese Taipei, Japan, Korea and Australia.
[Shen Yang]: How about the APNIC's open policy meeting?
[Paul Wilson]: We have 2 open policy meeting each year. The last meeting was in Kyoto, Japan, just one week ago. And we had about 150 people who attended from all over the Asia Pacific, and also from other parts of the world, including Europe, North America, and Africa. At the meeting there were many presentations and discussions about Internet addressing policies and related technical matters, as well as technical training for ISPs and others, and many other activities.
[Shen Yang]: Do you put the training course on the website?
[Paul Wilson]: Yes, of course. All of the meeting content, including video and text transcripts, are available freely on the APNIC website, at http://www.apnic.net/meetings
All APNIC training material is also on the website, along with all the policy proposals and discussions which take place on mailing lists. If you are unable to attend the APNIC meeting, you can participate online via the website.
[Shen Yang]: As I know more and more people in China know ICANN, but only a few people who knows APNIC.
[Paul Wilson]: This is often true because ICANN is responsible for many things, and also because there has been a lot of controversy.
However APNIC is because been in operation for over 10 years, and ICANN is around 5 years old. So we’re more stable and established than ICANN, and we have existed for a longer period of time. Our role is more specialized and there are not so many people who get involved with the IP addressing issues. However, I would say it's more important because without the IP addresses the Internet can not be operated
[Shen Yang]: I asked the question is that in my feeling in China, APNIC does not provide enough information to promote APNIC, so I asked Pan Guangliang if he can help to provide me some, Maybe this year I maybe help you to promote APNIC.
[Paul Wilson]: I would appreciate this very much.
[Shen Yang]: Let more people know that you are APNIC, including your training course, your policy, your member services, your technical support.
[Paul Wilson]: Well, we certainly welcome your help in doing that all over. We have certainly visited China many times. I have presented 3 times at the IPv6 Global Summit in China, as well as the China Inet meeting, and many training activities and other meetings. China is very big and we need to keep working very hard to reach the people in the Internet, especially in the government sector in China. It's very important to have some more dialogs so that we can understand Chinese concerns and positions, and can help to build the Internet in China.
[Shen Yang]: In this meeting I met Qian Hualin, Kenny Huang, Pan Guangliang, and CNNIC staff. I hope APNIC maybe send a mail list in Chinese, not only in English, as Chinese are so many members in APNIC, most of the APNIC members’ native language is not English.
[Paul Wilson]: We will be very happy to host some mailing lists for the Chinese members. As you know the general APNIC mailing lists are mostly in English, but if the Chinese members would like to have some Chinese language lists this would be fine and we would be very happy to help. Of course we work very closely with CNNIC, the China network information center, and we find CNNIC provides excellent services in China to help promote IP address management. So our relationship with CNNIC is very good and very valuable.
[Shen Yang]: I hope the first step for APNIC's website maybe enrich more and more Chinese information.
[Paul Wilson]: We have Chinese content and we will continue to increase this. All policy documents and the APNIC annual reports, and some other materials, are available in simplified and traditional Chinese. We support several other languages as well.
[Shen Yang]: Have you have noticed the ICANN's new website have Chinese version now?
[Paul Wilson]: Yes. That's great.
At our policy meetings we also have had simultaneous interpretation available. So it's possible to provide the meeting with Chinese interpretation when needed. The last meeting, because it was held in Fiji, had a mainly English speaking audience, so we did not have the interpretation. However, if we hold meeting in China, and I hope it will be, then we certainly have the simultaneous interpretation for all of the meeting.
[Shen Yang]: The last question is when the open policy meeting will be held in China? Do you know?
[Paul Wilson]: I don't know, however we have posted a request for proposals. And we would be very welcome for China also for CNNIC, MII to make a proposal to discuss have a meeting in China. I would be extremely happy for APNIC to hold a major meeting in China.
[Shen Yang]: Thank you!
[Paul Wilson]: Thank you!