What is APNIC? Inside the backbone of Asia’s internet

  • APNIC, a nonprofit Regional Internet Registry, manages IP addresses and ASNs, ensuring the efficient operation of the Asia Pacific internet.
  • With IPv4 exhaustion in 2011, APNIC strategically focuses on IPv6, supporting seamless internet services.
  • As of October 2023, APNIC is nearing the completion of IPv4 delegation, facing the challenge of address space depletion.

In the vast realm of the internet, there exists a behind-the-scenes player crucial to its seamless operation and growth. Meet APNIC, the Asia Pacific Network Information Centre, a nonprofit organization with a pivotal role in managing IP addresses and autonomous system numbers (ASNs) across the Asia Pacific region. But what exactly is APNIC, and how does it contribute to the intricate web of the internet?

A Regional Internet Registry (RIR)

APNIC operates as one of the five Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) globally, alongside AFRINIC, ARIN, LACNIC, and RIPE NCC. These RIRs, including APNIC, function as guardians of internet resources, overseeing the allocation of IP addresses and ASNs. Despite being regional entities, their impact reverberates globally, shaping the structure of the internet.

However, it’s important to note that APNIC doesn’t possess IP addresses outright. Instead, it receives allocations from the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), acting as an intermediary in the complex process of distributing internet number resources.

APNIC’s Membership and Functions

APNIC’s members form a diverse coalition, including internet service providers (ISPs), National Internet Registries (NIRs), Network Information Centers (NICs), and various organizations in the Asia Pacific region. This membership structure reflects APNIC’s commitment to inclusivity, allowing both individuals and institutions to join.

“APNIC provides common infrastructure services for the region that support the unique assignment of IP address blocks to Internet network operators within our region through the operation of an address registry. In short, IP addresses are what we do.”

Geoff Huston, stuff in APNIC

The organization’s functions extend far beyond mere allocation. It plays a pivotal role in:

1. IPv4 and IPv6 allocation: Managing the allocation of IP addresses and ASNs, a process governed by strict policies to ensure the efficiency of the network infrastructure.

2. Whois database administration: Maintaining a publicly accessible Whois Database, enabling the tracking of IP address allocations and ASN distribution, crucial for identifying and mitigating network abuse events.

3. Reverse DNS: Overseeing the registration of reverse DNS for administered IP addresses, allowing members to query domain names and website addresses.

4. Research and development: Engaging in research on critical issues such as IPv4 depletion, security, and IPv6 implementation, contributing to a better understanding and management of internet resources.


pop quiz

The functions of the organization include?

A. IPv4 and IPv6 allocation

B, Whois database administration

C. Reverse DNS

D. Research and development

The answer is at the bottom of the article.

Also read: Professor Li Xing: The challenges of IPv4 and IPv6 in China

A Historical Perspective

APNIC’s journey dates back to January 15, 1993, when it emerged as a pilot project in Japan to manage resource registration and support network operations in the Asia Pacific. In 1998, responding to economic considerations, APNIC relocated to Brisbane, Australia, where it officially registered as APNIC Pty Ltd.

The organization’s commitment to community involvement is evident through the election of the APNIC Executive Council (EC), the governing body that discusses policies and strategies to adapt to the evolving internet landscape. The APNIC community actively participates in the bottom-up Policy Development Process, fostering inclusivity in decision-making.

With nearly 8,000 members and counting, APNIC continually supports internet infrastructure development. This shift ensures the seamless operation of internet services, addressing the growing demand for efficient infrastructure in the Asia Pacific region.

Challenges and Initiatives

As of the latest update in October 2023, APNIC is on the verge of completing the delegation of its final IPv4 block. The depletion of IPv4 addresses is a global concern, and APNIC has navigated this challenge by adopting policies that allocate smaller address blocks to members. Despite this, the organization faces the inevitable exhaustion of IPv4 resources.

In addressing broader industry challenges, APNIC’s chief scientist, Geoff Huston, advocates for increased transparency in reporting outages. Drawing parallels with the aviation industry, he emphasizes the importance of detailed incident reports to enhance the robustness of digital infrastructure.

Nurturing the Internet’s Growth


In essence, APNIC is a linchpin in the intricate web of the internet, contributing significantly to the management, administration, and allocation of internet numbers in the Asia Pacific region. Its commitment to transparency, research, and community engagement underscores its role as a guardian of the internet’s stability, interoperability, and growth.

As the Asia Pacific region embraces the digital era with nearly half of the world’s internet users, APNIC’s role becomes even more critical. In collaboration with various stakeholders, it continues to shape the future of the internet, ensuring a seamless and efficient digital experience for users across the region and beyond.

The right answer is ABCD, all of them are correct.


Coco Yao

Coco Yao was an intern reporter at BTW media covering artificial intelligence and media. She is studying broadcasting and hosting at the Communication School of Zhejiang.

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