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Assignment requires an ongoing organizational apparatus. Decisions must be made, the organization's full-time staff must be supported, and policies must be defined. This raises all the familiar governance issues: How should that organization be controlled and held accountable? Should it be private or public, profit or nonprofit, regulated or unregulated? Where will its money come from? There is no common pattern, but there is a marked difference between the ways the telecommunication world and the computer/Internet world have approached the governance arrangements surrounding identifier resources.
Traditionally, telephone number spaces were controlled by national post, telephone, and telegraph monopolies. As liberalization of the telecommunication industry introduces multiple telephone companies into most countries, the trend is to take control of the number space away from the telephone companies and make it a 'national resource' under the administration of national regulators (ITU 1999). The purpose of nationalization is to equalize competition between incumbent telephone companies and new competitors. National regulators try to achieve numbering parity among the competitors and ensure that all competitors who enter the market have equal access to number blocks, without which they cannot function. Although frequently the actual administration of the number space will be delegated to industry-run self-regulatory agencies, such as the Association for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS) in the United States, the policies they must follow are defined by law and extensively regulated by public authorities.
There is a different tradition in data communication. Identifier spaces tend to be administered by private sector nonprofit standards organizations, such as the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), the World Wide Web consortium, or the regional address registries of the Internet. The policies of these organizations mostly are not subject to specific national laws and regulations regarding identifier policy. Furthermore, the data world tends to operate on a global basis. In the voice communication world, global coordination of numbering was conducted by a specialized international organization, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The ITU achieved global compatibility in a bottom-up fashion, interconnecting the otherwise incompatible number spaces of different nation-states by adding higher levels of hierarchy to the number space (e.g., country codes and special signals for international gateways) (Rutkowski 2001). The Internet and the Ethernet, on the other hand, started with a global address and name space; coordination was achieved top-down, through international acceptance of the same address space. Their standards have no territorial dimension.
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