September 2017 - Internet Governance | Networks

Enhancing the Operational Stability of the Internet

In the multi-stakeholder discussions on who should control the Internet and how it should be done, someone needs to speak for the Internet infrastructure providers. Wolf-Ulrich Knoben, Chair of the ISPCP in ICANN, explains how ISPs and connectivity providers are represented, and how they can join the global discussions themselves.

Global connections

© spainter_vfx |

DOTMAGAZINE: What is the ISPCP Constituency and what are its objectives? 

WOLF-ULRICH KNOBEN: The Internet Service Providers and Connectivity Providers (ISPCP) operate Internet backbone networks and/or provide access to Internet and related services to end users. They are to a large extent responsible for the technical infrastructure relevant to the Internet and have an essential role in its stability and development. As a consequence, they contribute toward fulfilling the aims and goals of ICANN (Internet Corporation for Account Names and Numbers). Since the creation of ICANN, those players formed a constituency as part of the Generic Name Supporting Organization (GNSO). This constituency gives its members a voice in the ICANN concert.

The ISPCP is represented primarily through associations recognized as qualified to represent a broad range of commercial interests within the ISPCP. Business and commercial entities are, under certain conditions, also entitled to apply for membership.

Among the numerous topics where our members have expressed the views of their community, we could mention:

• Universal Acceptance of new gTLDs
• New gTLDs and their impact on the network
• IANA transition, a milestone in the history of the Internet
• Whois policies
• IP addressing
• Institutional evolution of ICANN

DOT: What are the needs and concerns of ISPs and connectivity providers when it comes to ICANN and DNS issues?

KNOBEN: Members of the ISPCP Constituency actively participate in the work of ICANN to ensure that policy development for the global domain name system guarantees and enhances the operational stability of the Internet. For example, Internet users affected by technical issues related to the DNS complain to their access provider in many cases. Thus ISPs and connectivity providers engage in designing the respective policies to guard against those issues.

DOT: How does eco/DE-CIX contribute to the ISPCP? 

KNOBEN: eco is represented on the ISPCP constituency by Lars Steffen, and I’m personally proud – being an advisor to the DE-CIX management board – to have been chairing the constituency since the beginning of this year. Our contributions range from participation in Working Groups, panel discussions and other ICANN structures like the GNSO council. In addition, public comments are provided on specific items of interest to ISPs.

DOT: What are current or recent issues where the ISPCP has been active in supporting ISPs and connectivity providers?

KNOBEN: In particular, constituency members are engaged in an initiative called Universal Acceptance (UA). It is about any form of domain name and email address being equally resolved in the worldwide Internet infrastructure. This goal has to be taken into consideration already in the phase of development of respective hard and software as well as Internet services. As I mentioned before, eco is active in the UA Steering Group. Other emerging items of interest to ISPs are the future extension of the DNS and technical developments in context with the Digital Objects Architecture (DOA). 

DOT: What have you set as a personal goal within the ISPCP?

Two major goals are to bring active membership to a sustainable level and to boost awareness of the constituency within the ICANN community. As the success of ICANN’s multistakeholder model mainly depends on community engagement on voluntary basis, sustainable engagement is critical. Increasing the number of members is necessary, but in the long run not in itself sufficient.

To get involved with the ISPCP, please contact 

Further information about the ISPCP at ICANN can be found here:

Wolf-Ulrich Knoben is a Graduate Engineer with more than 30 years of professional life in the telecommunications sector, 8 years on an international basis. He has been active for ICANN for the last 10 years, and is Advisor to the Management Board of the Internet Exchange operator DE-CIX.

Please note: The opinions expressed in Industry Insights published by dotmagazine are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of the publisher, eco – Association of the Internet Industry