ICANN has been re-awarded the IANA contract, surprising no one, but at the same time keeping questions about the fate of the Internet's core functioning very much alive.
Strictly speaking ICANN has been granted a six-month extension [pdf], but then this is how the US government behaves when it comes to IANA. It has been extending ICANN's contract since day one, with an occasional modification.
So why is this one any different? Well, aside from the world political tectonic shifts of the past year, the US government actually put out a “Sources Sought Notice” at the end of February for IANA, which was widely viewed as a warning shot across ICANN's boughs.
And the extension is only for six months – to 30 September 2006 – which means it will end at the same time as the main Memorandum of Understanding that ICANN has with the US government and which provides it with all its authority. Previous extensions have been for a year. You can see the whole history on the NTIA's website.
As ever, we can only guess what is really going on because both ICANN and the US government go very, very quiet as soon as you start asking about the MoU. Which is obviously incredibly comforting for the rest of the world.
Just what is going to happen with the running of the entire Internet's infrastructure in September this year? Nobody seems to know.
I note as well that the post in which the US government announced its “sources sought” request for IANA has now been wiped off the Internet – it was here.
Or perhaps we can read something into the fact that the extension to the contract was awarded on 1 April. Maybe Michael Gallagher was just joining in on the April Fool's Day fun.