Anybody who wants to can set up their own name servers, and they don't have to ever connect to the current root name servers. But few people are inclined to do this. Ninety-nine percent of users will simply configure their systems to use their ISP's name servers by virtue of doing nothing: DHCP, the same protocol by which they receive their IP address assignment, will also tell them the IP address(es) to use for domain name lookups. Ninety-nine percent of ISPs will use the root name server hints which were packaged with their own name server setup packages, and guess where those hints will send domain name requests for the root zone?
Various people have tried on more than one occasion to set up meaning- ful alternative root name servers. None achieved wide acceptance, and no one I know of has even tried in the last five years.
-- George Mitchell