What is ICANN?

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ICANN is a non-profit corporation founded in the US in 1998 that stands for ‘Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers’. Register any domain on the internet using your favorite domain name registrar and one way or another you will be using the services of ICANN and paying a small fee as part of that domain registration process to ICANN via your domain registrar.

Role of ICANN

The main role of ICANN is to manage and oversee the domain name registration process and the assignment of Internet Protocol (IP) addresses to Internet Service Providers (ISPs) through its Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) group. IANA was founded by Jon Postel (contributor to the US Dept of Defense ARPANET, the original global internet created during the cold war) and is headquartered at University of the Southern California.

What does ICANN do?

All devices connected to a network using the Internet Protocol need to have an unique IP address or numeric ‘tag’, for it to be identified on that network and allow data to pass from one source location to another destination location, and it was up to ICANN to allocate who should use what blocks of IP Addresses to make the whole thing work. Since there are a lot of networks within homes, organizations or companies, ICANN determined that a number of ranges of IP addresses could be reused within each separate private network so as not to quickly exhaust the availability of the pool of IP addresses that ICANN could allocate. ICANN therefore designated the IP address ranges below for reuse in these private networks;

10.0.0.0 – 10.255.255.255
172.16.0.0 – 172.31.255.255
192.168.0.0 – 192.168.255.255

ICANN reserved all other IP address ranges for PUBLIC network use over what we call the global internet that we see today that exists between different Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) around the world.

The other more well know role of ICANN is the assignment of domain names. ICANN authorizes the use of all top level domain names such as .com, .org. .net, as well as country code based domains (like .co.uk, .co.nz). Actual domain name assignments though are carried out by ICANN authorized domain name registrars and you cannot directly register a domain name with ICANN.

Another significant role ICANN played in the development of the modern internet is the creation of the UDRP or ‘Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy’ that governs resolution of conflicts concerning domain name ownership. ICANN wanted an inexpensive, fair, and fast resolution system that bypassed the legal court system for disputed domain names and thus UDRP was born with the help of the ‘World Intellectual Property Organization’.

Can you register a domain name with ICANN?

As mentioned above, you cannot directly register a domain name with ICANN. While all domain registrations have to eventually go through ICANN, the only way you can register a domain name is through an ICANN certified domain registrar. If you wish to register a domain name via a domain registrar, ICANN forces you to agree to use the UDRP process for potential domain name conflict resolution and no other process, otherwise you will not be able to register your domain. For instance, if you were to register a domain name on Ballistic Domains, I can would assign an IP address for the domain, through Ballistic Domains. ICANN retains a portion of the domain registration cost as a fee for the role it plays in the domain name registration process.


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