19 November 2021 | 3 min read

RIPE NCC: All You Need To Know

The Réseaux IP Européens Network Coordination Center takes care of internet number resources in its service region. What does it do and what is it responsible for? Continue reading to find out.

RIPE NCC service region.

As we discuss RIPE NCC, we must mention the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), an organization responsible for allocating all internet number resources globally. 

To make IANA’s job easier, the task of providing global internet resources within five service regions around the world goes to one of five Regional Internet Registries (RIRs). Every RIR is a non-profit organization that operates in its own service region.

This article is dedicated to one of the RIRs – RIPE Network Coordination Center – but for context, the other four are listed below:

  • AFRINIC: The African Network Information Center responsible for the IP address space in Africa
  • APNIC: The Asia-Pacific Network Information Center responsible for the IP addresses in East, South and Southeast Asia, and Oceania
  • ARIN: The American Registry for Internet Numbers responsible for the IP address space in Antarctica, Canada, the United States and parts of the Caribbean
  • LACNIC: The Latin America and Caribbean Network Information Center responsible for the IP addresses in the rest of the Caribbean, Mexico and South America

To better understand the role of a Regional Internet Registry in the administrative and technical coordination of the internet, let’s zoom in on RIPE NCC. 

What is RIPE Network Coordination Center (NCC)? 

RIPE NCC stands for Réseaux IP Européens Network Coordination Center, or the European IP Networks Coordination Center. It is the Regional Internet Registry for all of Europe, the Middle East and some parts of Central Asia. 

IANA allocates blocks of internet number resources to RIPE NCC. The RIR’s role is then to allocate internet numbers like IPv4 and IPv6 addresses and Autonomous System Numbers within its service area. 

RIPE NCC handles IPv4 and IPv6 addresses and ASNs.
RIPE NCC handles the responsibility of distributing IPv4 and IPv6 addresses and autonomous system numbers

The RIR does not assign IP addresses or other numbers individually. Instead, it assigns and registers them as blocks of numbers to internet service providers (ISPs) and other organizations that hold formal membership. These RIPE NCC members are then responsible for assigning individual numbers to end-users. 

A public RIPE database stores registration details about the allocated numbers to ensure that the internet remains well-documented and organized. This database lists all resources allocated within RIPE’s geographical region.

RIPE NCC service region

As mentioned previously, RIPE NCC is responsible for Europe, the Middle East and parts of Central Asia. In total, that accounts for over 75 countries

There are Local Internet Registries (LIR) in each of these countries, which are all part of the RIPE community. There are over 20,000 organizations that fall into this category, each of which allocates numbers and provides administrative support in their own countries.  

In addition to the public database that tells you where each number block is assigned, RIPE NCC also publishes a complete list of all the organizations that receive allocations from the internet registry. This list can help you map the entire RIPE community. 

RIPE NCC services

RIPE NCC is responsible for offering a surprisingly broad selection of services. Here are some of the most important services: 

  • Distribution and management of internet numbers (IPs and ASNs)
  • LIR Portal offers access to local registrars for administrative tasks
  • Resource Certification (RPKI) confirms the owner of internet resources
  • RIPE Database makes resource allocation information available publicly
  • DNS Services support the delegation of reverse DNS zones
  • RIPE Atlas provides real-time internet mapping tools 
  • IPv4 Transfer Listing Service helps exchange the unused IPv4 address space 
  • RIPE Meetings occur twice a year for RIPE associates
Image of woman showing RIPE NCC responsibilities.
RIPE NCC offers numerous services to the RIPE community

Besides providing numerous services, the RIR also handles the crucial RIPE Policy Development Process. This process introduces the RIPE community to the best practices.

History of RIPE NCC

RIPE NCC effectively had two starting dates. The first is September 1990, which is when the organization was first formed and began carrying out its administrative duties. However, it was not until the second date, in April 1992, that the RIR was formally established. 

RIPE is a forum open to anyone. The responsibilities of RIPE NCC include supporting RIPE administratively and electing the executive board. While both have been legally separate entities since 1998, they work closely together and rely upon each other’s support. 

Anyone can attend the meetings or participate in the work of RIPE through mailing lists. RIPE working groups use these mailing lists actively. RIPE NCC members (e.g., ISPs or large corporations), who want to get internet resources, pay a sign-up fee and also an annual fee. 

As a Regional Internet Registry, RIPE NCC distributes both IPv4 and IPv6 addresses. However, according to Geoff Huston, RIPE depleted its pool of IPv4 addresses in 2012. Once the free pool is exhausted, RIPE can only allocate redistributed IPv4 addresses. 

Conclusion

If you’re using an internet-connected device in Europe, then, at some point, the IP address you’re using was allocated by RIPE NCC. 

As the body responsible for the internet numbers and the technical coordination of the internet in its region, RIPE has had and continues to have an important role in the overall organization of the internet.