Management Guidelines & Operational Requirements for the Address and Routing Parameter Area Domain ("arpa")
RFC 3172

Document Type RFC - Best Current Practice (September 2001; No errata)
Also known as BCP 52
Author IAB 
Last updated 2013-03-02
Stream IAB
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Network Working Group                                  G. Huston, Editor
Request for Comments: 3172                                           IAB
BCP: 52                                                   September 2001
Category: Best Current Practice

          Management Guidelines & Operational Requirements for
         the Address and Routing Parameter Area Domain ("arpa")

Status of this Memo

   This document specifies an Internet Best Current Practices for the
   Internet Community, and requests discussion and suggestions for
   improvements.  Distribution of this memo is unlimited.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2001).  All Rights Reserved.


   This memo describes the management and operational requirements for
   the address and routing parameter area ("arpa") domain.  The "arpa"
   domain is used to support a class of infrastructural identifier
   spaces, providing a distributed database that translates elements of
   a structured name space derived from a protocol family to service
   names.  The efficient and reliable operation of this DNS space is
   essential to the integrity of operation of various services within
   the Internet.  The Internet Architecture Board (IAB) has the
   responsibility, in cooperation with the Internet Corporation for
   Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), to manage the "arpa" domain.
   This document describes the principles used by the IAB in undertaking
   this role.

1. Introduction

   The Domain Name System (DNS) [1] [2] is predominately used to
   translate a structured textual identifier into a protocol-specific
   value.  It uses the structure embedded within a hierarchical
   identifier space to create a distributed database, where every node
   within the database corresponds to a node within the name structure.
   The most prevalent role of the DNS is to store a set of name to
   address translations, allowing a domain name to be translated to an
   IP address.  The DNS is also used to store a number of other
   translations from hierarchically structured identifier spaces into
   target values of various types.

Huston                   Best Current Practice                  [Page 1]
RFC 3172                    arpa Guidelines               September 2001

   The DNS is also capable of supporting a translation in the opposite
   direction, from protocol values to the names of service entities.
   One approach in using the DNS in this fashion has been to transform
   protocol values into a hierarchically structured identifier space,
   and then use these transformed protocol value names as a DNS lookup
   key into the appropriate DNS name hierarchy.  A common use of this
   mechanism has been the reverse of the name to address lookup,
   allowing for an IPv4 address to be used to look up a matching domain
   name.  For example, the IP address can be associated
   with the domain name "" by creating the DNS entry" and mapping this entry, via a DNS PTR
   record, to the value "".

   The resolution of protocol objects into service names is used by a
   number of applications to associate services with a particular
   protocol object.  The correct and efficient operation of these
   applications is dependent on the correct and efficient operation of
   the associated "arpa" domain name servers.

2. The "arpa" domain

   The "arpa" domain was originally established as part of the initial
   deployment of the DNS, to provide a transition mechanism from the
   Host Tables that were common in the ARPANET, as well as a home for
   the IPv4 reverse mapping domain.  During 2000, the abbreviation was
   redesignated to "Address and Routing Parameter Area" in the hope of
   reducing confusion with the earlier network name.

   The Internet Architecture Board (IAB), in cooperation with the
   Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), is
   currently responsible for managing the Top Level Domain (TLD) name
   "arpa".  This arrangement is documented in Appendix A.  This domain
   name provides the root of the name hierarchy of the reverse mapping
   of IP addresses to domain names.  More generally, this domain name
   undertakes a role as  a limited use domain for Internet
   infrastructure applications, by providing a name root for the mapping
   of particular protocol values to names of service entities.  This
   domain name provides a name root for the mapping of protocol values
   into lookup keys to retrieve operationally critical protocol
   infrastructure data records or objects for the Internet.

   The IAB may add other infrastructure uses to the "arpa" domain in the
   future.  Any such additions or changes will be in accordance with the
   procedures documented in Section 2.1 and Section 3 of this document.

Huston                   Best Current Practice                  [Page 2]
RFC 3172                    arpa Guidelines               September 2001
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