The Importance of Knowing Where Internet Addresses Are Located


During the webinar titled “Current Status of IP Geolocation” organized by LACNIC, Italian expert Massimo Candela stressed the importance of having reliable information on where Internet addresses are being used.

Geolocation is needed to enforce and check data locality, to troubleshoot and identify where the culprit of a network issue is located, to provide specific content to specific countries, to respect local laws and copyright, to automatically set a website to the language of the user, or to serve a user from a server close to their location.

The Italian engineer observed that IP geolocation methods can be divided into two types: passive and active geolocation. Passive geolocation relies on operators providing geolocation information, while active geolocation tries to calculate the location of an IP address automatically.

Candela noted that there are various sources for passive geolocation, including geolocation information inserted in hostnames by the operators, the DNS LOC field, RIR databases (location of the company to which an IP prefix has been assigned), and crowsdourced data. However, he explained that these sources are either non-standard (and therefore difficult to use in an automated way) or rarely utilized. “Additionally, being manual, they are prone to provide stale information,” he added.

Candela placed special emphasis on active geolocation tools such as Geofeeds, a promising format for self-publishing IP geolocation information. “This can be used both to publish geolocation information about our own prefixes as well as to correct a group of prefixes by sending such files to geolocation providers.”

Active measurements use latency measurements from devices of known position to estimate where the target is located (latency is converted into distance).

In this sense, he observed that RIPE NCC has probably the only platform performing active geolocation on a large-scale, with a precision of 80.3% at city level. LACNIC has also developed a Geofeeds geolocation tool which is in its expansion phase.

During the webinar, Candela presented several tools used to correct geolocation information and which are currently available to providers. He also provided a list of contacts/APIs/forms that can be used to correct geolocation information.

Click here to watch the webinar