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Ask not what the Internet can do for you

01 Nov 2009

It costs just $21 for a year’s membership to InternetNZ. That’s the starting price for an individual; for a   company with more than 100 staff it’s $562.50. It’s not much, but then the services we offer members are pretty limited.

That’s because membership in Internet NZ is about what you can contribute. Our organisation offers a  framework for anyonewith an interest in the Internet and Internetrelated issues to provide input into its work.

Over the past few years, this work has included making submissions on ultra highspeed broadband, software  patents, copyright (especially the contentious Section 92A of the Copyright Act), Internet interconnection arrangements, security and cybercrime.

But our primary work – and our funding – arises from administering the domain name service in New  Zealand.

We expect that telecommunications services are available close to 100% of the time. Telcos are fond of  describing their 99.99% reliability standard, but Internet service depends on much more than simple  connectivity. If your web browser is unable to communicate reliably with the one server that you need out of  the approximately 600 million that are connected to the Internet, you have every right to feel peeved.

So what lies behind this seeming simple but critical network navigation service? The domain name service  (DNS) resolves readily understood character strings such as internetnz.net.nz to a long series of numbers: in  this case 202.046.176.033. These numbers map the real physical geography of the global Internet. Internet  services would not exist without the DNS.

The New Zealand corner of the global DNS is the .nz Registry. It is run by New Zealand Registry Services,  which is 100% owned by InternetNZ. A DNS registry is a natural monopoly; if you want to have a name in  the .nz space you have no choice but to use the Registry. But to register your name, you use a registrar who is  accredited to use the .nz Registry and there are currently almost 70 of those offering a range of competing  services, and prices.

The .nz ‘space’ is governed by a regulatory framework established by contracts between registrars and the  registry which is intended to ensure that the rights of domain name holders are well defi ned and are upheld.  One of these rights is 100% availability of the DNS service: no qualifi cations, no reservations, no exceptions.  Even if the entire New Zealand Internet is down, your domain name will be resolved to an IP address from  anywhere else. Of course, if your online service is not available (after all the telecommunications service is  only claimed to be 99.99% reliable), this may not be very useful for anyone trying to use your web server  (unless it is located offshore). But .nz Registry service provision can only reach so far!

There are many aspects of reliable, safe and secure access and service provision that Internet users need to  take more or less for granted. Although the .nz DNS is the only part of the complex infrastructure that  InternetNZ is responsible for, there are no aspects of the Internet that the organisation is not interested in or  prepared to work to improve.

In addition to contributing to regulatorydebates, InternetNZ provides fi nancial and other support for  understanding of Internet legal issues through the CyberLaw Fellowship at Victoria University, kids’ online  safety though NetSafe and Hector’s World, universal access through the 2020 Communications Trust, online education and entrepreneurs through the Liz Dengate Thrush Foundation, and Pacifi c Islands Internet access.

 InternetNZ is a membership-based organisation and membership is open to anyone. Why don’t you join us?

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