Posts Tagged ‘Registry’

The favoured new TLD registrar payment model

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

By Chris Wright

This week, Thomas Barrett – the President of US based registrar EnCirca – published a timely article about how the registrar cash flow model could collapse with the imminent release of hundreds of new Top-Level Domains (TLD).

I would like to thank Thomas for raising this important issue and for encouraging all new TLD applicants to discuss this topic with their back-end registry provider.

Thomas is correct; the process new TLD registries choose to interact with registrars will have a major impact on the success of their businesses.

Building upon what Thomas has written, I would like to take this opportunity to provide insights from a back-end registry operator’s view and offer an explanation for why I think the post bill pay model is favoured amongst registrars and should be supported by registries.

While Thomas briefly touched on this point, I would like to expand upon it and clarify a few issues.

The post bill pay model

ARI Registry Services has spent considerable time developing effective payment processes between registries and registrars. Following considerable consultation, the post bill pay model was constructed in conjunction with some of the largest registrars around the world.

We support the post bill pay model because it is actually significantly simpler and most registrars like it. In summary, this model essentially means registrars receive an invoice from the registry operator for all billable transactions following the end of a billing period. There are no accounts and no need for funds to be transferred outside of these invoices, which significantly helps to reduce the financial risk and strain on registrars.

It’s worth noting that it can be important to make a distinction between transactions that can be reversed and transaction’s that cannot. To make it simple for everyone, ARI Registry Services does not bill registry operators for transactions that are still reversible. We will wait until these transactions become non-reversible before we issue any invoices to registry operators. We offer similar functionality to our registry operators with respect to registrar billing so that they also have the choice to do this.

Benefits of the post bill pay model

As Thomas outlined in his article, there are a number of questions new TLD applicants should be asking their back-end registry provider. I completely agree with Thomas and offer the following responses to provide clarity on the benefits of the post bill pay model:

1) Is there an “accreditation” fee charged by the Registry?

As a back-end registry provider, we don’t charge any accreditation fee.

In fact, we take this one step further. All established registrars that can demonstrate experience in integrating with registries of a similar structure to us do not need to perform technical accreditation processes with us. Furthermore, we strongly advise our registry clients against charging accreditation fees as this is an unnecessary barrier to entry for registrars and ultimately impacts the commercial success of the TLD.

2) How much does the Registry require as an initial deposit and for replenishments?

Deposits, account maintenance and funds for replenishments are abolished under the post pay billing model. We don’t see any need for these.

The benefit of the post pay billing model is that there is no need to have account balances in the registry and we can simply track the transactions and invoice the registrars.

3) How does the Registry communicate the existing balance to Registrars? 

When you move to the post pay model, all you need to do is provide a web interface that allows registry operators and registrars alike access to the billable transactions that have occurred in the current invoice cycle. Sending a daily summary of transaction totals is the preferred way to proactively inform registrars of what they have spent.

4) Is there an auto-renewal policy for non-renewed domains?

Thomas seems to suggest that registrars don’t like auto-renewal because they basically provide credits to registrants or credits to the TLD.

This is easily addressed by delaying raising a transaction for this renewal until the end of the auto-renew grace period. Alternatively we can use the post pay model and the principle of not charging for non-reversible transactions. These solutions effectively eliminate this issue so you can still support an auto-renew service without the registrar having to carry the financial risk.

5) What are the bank fees to fund your registry account?

This is eliminated under the post pay bill model because there are no bank accounts and deposits to be tracked.

6) What payment options does the Registry accept for funds?

In our post bill pay model (as a back-end registry operator), we don’t enforce any mandatory payment options. It’s relatively straightforward; we send the invoicing data to the registry operator, who in turn will load the information into their accounting systems and generate an invoice for registrars. Registry operators are free to accept payment via any of the standard commercial invoicing payment options, or indeed any other method they desire. 

7) Does the Registry have its own account for each Registrar or does the back-end provider provide a single account for each registrar for all of the TLDs the back-end provider manages?

This issue becomes a lot less of a problem under the post bill pay model because we do not require money to be deposited, and thus tied up.

Each registrar will get a separate invoice from each commercial entity (registry operator) they deal with (TLD or collection of TLDs).

8) Does the Registry provider emergency credit if funds run low?

Again, because there are no funds associated with the post bill pay model, this issue is eliminated.

Risk for registry operators

As can be seen in our responses above, the post bill pay model addresses all of the questions Thomas has raised. However, while reducing the financial burden to registrars, it does potentially expose the registry operator to more risk.

We argue that new TLD registry operators should be prepared to accept this risk given that it will make their TLD more appealing to registrars. Ultimately, if you don’t have any registrars, you won’t be able to sell your domain names.

Further, these risks are manageable and can be addressed. For example, you can conduct credit checks on registrars, ask potentially problematic or risky registrars to put money into escrow or offer a bond, track the amount of debt a registrar is accumulating, or ultimately completely cut off the registrar from the registry if bills are not paid.

There are a number of strategies available to reduce this risk to registry operators.

Promotions

A further benefit of the post bill pay model is that it offers the most flexible platform for registries and registrars to implement promotional offers, discounts, credits for marketing and other commercial pricing strategies.

Essentially, each registry operator can apply their own discounting or promotional strategy as credits towards invoices, without requiring back-end registry operators to manage these. This means registry operators do not have to rely on their registry services provider to custom build promotions into their registry system, or pay expensive development costs.

Impact on new TLD applicants

I strongly recommend all new TLD applicants to consider the post bill pay model for their registrar payment process.

As described above, this model reduces the cash flow burden for registrars, makes your TLD more appealing to them and allows each registry operator to negotiate their own terms with each registrar.

Remember, registrars will be a crucial element in the success of many new TLDs. The barriers to entry will be a key  parameter reviewed by registrars when making decisions about which TLDs to integrate with first and a post bill payment model will go a long way to reducing these barriers.

If your back-end registry provider does not offer a post bill payment model, it may not be too late to switch.

By Chris Wright
Chief Technology Officer
ARI Registry Services

Brussels mandate: Community-developed TMCH gains ascendancy

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

By Chris Wright

ICANN has tentatively agreed to proceed with the community-developed Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH) model following two days of discussions at a specially organised informal meeting in Brussels last week.

I believe this is an important breakthrough for the intellectual property, registry and registrar communities as it provides the best harmony between technical implementation and best practice trademark protection policy.

While it is yet to be ratified, the decision to support the processes described in the community TMCH model paves the way for discussions to now focus on how to technically implement this model.

The extraordinary and somewhat unprecedented level of collaboration and negotiation from all parties involved in the TMCH discussions over the past four months warrants congratulation, as does the leadership of ICANN CEO Fadi Chehadé who has been instrumental in facilitating this agreement.

The Brussels TMCH mandate

Just weeks after holding productive workshops at ICANN 45 in Toronto, representatives from the intellectual property and business constituencies, registries, registrars and senior ICANN representatives gathered again in Brussels on 1 and 2 November to negotiate a solution to the stalemate over exactly how the TMCH should be implemented.

The aim of the meeting was to discuss issues related to the implementation of the TMCH as it is described in the Guidebook. This excluded all policy related issues regarding rights protection mechanisms outside of what has already been agreed upon in the Guidebook.

At the top of the agenda were talks to find agreement about which TMCH model best serves the interests of stakeholders – the original ICANN model or the recently published alternative community-developed model.

Concerns have been raised about the feasibility of the original ICANN model. I, and a number of other registries and registrars, have been vocal opponents of ICANN’s original TMCH model because we believe it is too complex and burdensome in the way it achieves its objectives.

In September, we released three whitepapers which described the flaws associated with ICANN’s model and offered an overview of why the community-developed implementation model would achieve the same objectives without these burdens.

After many hours of deliberation, agreement was formed to support the community-developed model and proceed with discussions about how to technically implement it.

The next step

The decision to move forward with the community-developed model means we are now one (big) step closer to building a fully functional TMCH in time for the first delegation of new Top-Level Domains (TLD) which is set to occur in 2013.

This should come as welcome news to all new TLD applicants.

As agreed in Brussels last week, the next step in this process will be a meeting in Los Angeles on 15 and 16 of November to finalise the technical details of the implementation of the TMCH. These details have been missing from all previous discussions because of the lack of certainty about which model would be utilised.

Now that there is agreement on the implementation as described in the community-developed model, we can proceed with discussions about the nitty-gritty technical details involving the integration between registries, registrars and the clearinghouse provider.

Following the Los Angeles meeting, work will begin on writing the TMCH implementation specifications. ICANN will then finalise contractual agreements with the TMCH provider in anticipation of go-live shortly thereafter.

This is a remarkable turnaround in events considering the entire new TLD program was at risk if a workable solution could not be found. There is now light at the end of the tunnel and this is credit to the extensive collaboration that has been seen throughout the development of the TMCH.

Congratulations to everyone involved and well done. We are nearly there.

By Chris Wright
Chief Technology Officer at ARI Registry Services

ARI Registry Services responds to Roland LaPlante

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

By Adrian Kinderis

Contrary to claims made by Afilias CMO Roland LaPlante (CircleID – 21 October 2011), current generic Top-Level Domain (gTLDs) Registries have no real technical or commercial advantage at operating a new Top-Level Domain (TLD) because existing gTLDs are currently only required to comply with a small subset of the requirements of the new TLD program.

Mr LaPlante argues that potential applicants should question Registry providers about which gTLDs they currently support because he suggests that “ICANN-contracted gTLDs operate under more stringent — and public — requirements than other TLDs.”

This statement is fundamentally wrong.

The new TLD program is setting a precedent within the industry for the best practice performance, operation and policy requirements of a generic TLD namespace that is governed by ICANN. Through the Applicant Guidebook, ICANN has created a completely new approach to operating a generic TLD and it contains multiple requirements that do not exist within current gTLDs. These additions include:

•    Rights Protection Mechanisms – Trademark Clearinghouse & Uniform Rapid Suspension System (URS)
•    Mandatory abuse measures
•    Policy establishment requirements
•    Stricter eligibility (considering community based TLDs)
•    Government and law enforcement recommendations

To put it simply, current gTLDs have little in common with new TLDs.

Furthermore, Mr LaPlante’s attack on country code Top-Level Domains (ccTLDs) is weak and without basis. Talk to auDA (the .au regulator), InternetNZ (the .nz regulator) and Nominet (.uk regulator), and I am sure they would be appalled to hear the view that their TLDs were managed with less stringent public policy development frameworks than existing gTLDs.

In fact, some restricted policy ccTLDs already incorporate features of the new TLD program that gTLDs such as .com, .info or .net currently fail to address. For instance, most viable ccTLDs already have strict rights protection and abuse measures in place. They also have a strong emphasis on stakeholder involvement and operate under increased scrutiny by governments and law enforcement.

The reality is that many ccTLDs perform the same role as gTLDs, except they do this within the confines of many more restrictions and policies, such as those found in the new TLD program. It is false to claim that gTLDs operate under more stringent requirements simply because they have a contract with ICANN and publish monthly reports about their registry operation.

Regardless of existing credentials or experience, the point is that new TLDs come with a set of requirements that currently don’t exist in any namespace and many of these are still yet to be fleshed out by ICANN (take the Trademark Clearing House for example).

It’s important to remember that one of ICANN’s primary goals in developing the new TLD program was to find a way to facilitate entry for new Registry operators entering the market. ICANN is attempting to introduce competition and they have done so in such a way that potential applicants do not even need to partner with a Registry Services Provider, let alone a gTLD provider in order to operate a new TLD Registry. While existing Registry Operators will deliver a superior solution (usually at a cost benefit) to those entities that do not wish to perform the technical function themselves, this choice is left with the applicant. ICANN will not give applicants any extra points for choosing an existing provider, despite what the propaganda might say.

It is true that not all TLD Registry Services Providers are created equal. There are good providers and there are ordinary providers. Each has different qualities and credentials. Unfortunately, operating an existing gTLD Registry is not one that holds relevance to the success or failure of your new TLD.

The fact of the matter is no one has ever operated a new TLD and we are all new to this world.

What you need to ask your provider is not their experience with existing gTLD registries, but their understanding of the program, its new requirements, the Applicant Guidebook and how they will technically support your specific requirements.

Clearly some providers don’t seem to understand that it will be a new world, which to me suggests that perhaps they don’t understand the program as much as they would have you believe.

By Adrian Kinderis, CEO of ARI Registry Services

New TLD Applicants: Read this before selecting a Registry provider

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

By Adrian Kinderis

Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former,”
Albert Einstein.

Today, the clock ticked down to 85 days until commencement of the new Top-Level Domain application window. Finally, after years of educating, pitching and responding to RFPs, we have reached a period where prospective applicants must either choose to develop their Top-Level Domain Registry themselves or choose their Registry Services Partner (RSP). For most folks, unless they share a level of expertise, this will mean choosing an outsourced RSP, like ARI Registry Services.

As each day passes, I spend more time immersing myself with prospective clients who are weighing up the ARI offering over those of alternative providers. The more I become entrenched in this competitive process, the more it becomes increasingly clear that many of the competing RSPs pitching their wares to hopeful applicants are misleading them by hiding critically important information in fine print disclaimers or feeding them rubbish in order to whittle down the competition. Competition is a great thing; it just needs to be on the same playing field. Make sure you are comparing apples with apples.

Here is a bit of advice for anyone wishing to outsource their RSP. Yes, it is a little self-serving but my company has always prided itself on doing what is right for the customer – even if that means we have to pass on some along the way.

1. You do not have to choose an existing gTLD Registry provider. ICANN gives you no more extra points. This is ugly propaganda that serves only to limit competition. The rules and requirements in the round of applications are such that we ALL have to build new requirements and features to our Registry systems. It is a new Registry to everyone so to say that doing it now in a gTLD space gives you an advantage is rubbish. ICANN wrote the rules to make it possible to do it yourself and it’s not rocket science. It is tricky, but it simply isn’t impossible. If you are not into doing it yourself, you are able to outsource the headache. Of course it makes sense to outsource to someone that has run an EPP Registry before, but the existing gTLD Registries are vastly different. I love that existing Registries forget they were new once. Imagine if Verisign came out and said it couldn’t be done when ICANN was handing out .info and .biz. Somehow Afilias and Neustar were able to build a gTLD Registry then, but yet these are the Registries that now tell us that none of us are capable now? Hmmmm…. Oh and don’t forget whatever Registry you bring them, they have an invested interest to support their own ahead of yours (unless you are giving them $6 a pop per domain, in which case you are getting ripped off!)

2. Your Application to ICANN is the most important thing to you right now. Make sure you choose a RSP that is going to do a stellar job with the technical answers. Ask to see the technical responses for the application upfront. Make sure they give you complete answers to questions 23 through 44, and have draft answers ready for you to customize for questions 15, 16 and 22. Get specific deliverables sorted upfront!

3. Read the fine print of your quotation. A one line quotation for Registry services may look easy to handle but it is fraught with danger. Especially once you are ready to go live and find out that many of the basic services weren’t covered and you think to yourself “no wonder these guys were so cheap.” It is simple; ensure that a “no further costs” clause is added to your contract.  Read the fine print and make sure everything you need is in there. Including the ability to move and change later. You are all start ups and times will get tough at some point.

4. Make sure you are signing with someone that shares your entrepreneurial spirit. I’ve already said it; you are building a business here. You are an entrepreneur. Make sure that your RSP is able to support you and understand your needs going forward. Ask the sales guy you are talking to how many businesses he has started. Ask the CEO of the firm the same question – if, of course, he/she even talks to you. Ask yourselves how many of these guys will be around to support you when times are tough (or will they already be working for a competitor!). Don’t screw this up.

5. Go Live is the NEXT important thing for you. How is your RSP going to support you? How are they going to support you and all the other applicants they have? Are they focused on your business? You don’t want to be all of their business so you can get the benefits of economies of scale, but you don’t want to be a tiny cog in a big wheel. How many phone calls and how much support will you get once that contract is signed?

6. Pricing is, of course, important, but you must know, IT ISN’T EVERYTHING. You don’t choose the cheapest lawyer, doctor or accountant for a reason. Why wouldn’t the same logic apply here? The process is simple. Do your homework, and get an understanding of your expected volumes. This will tell you what price you need from your RSP. Then look to other variables, many of which I have mentioned above to determine the best provider for you. Is it flexibility, payment terms, technology, redundancy etc? Reach out to me and I’ll be sure to give you a check list of items outside of pricing to make sure you consider them. Once again it is the apples versus apples scenario.

There is no secret to ARI Registry Services’ success. We keep it simple. We look after our customers which are why they are all repeat customers. We are working with companies big and small, governments and non profits. We work hard for all of them but ultimately, we don’t sell crap. We tell the truth and we disclose everything – as I said, simple. Make sure your provider is going to do the same.

I wish you well as you embark on this exciting journey. If you choose someone else other than my firm in your selection process, good for you. If the tips above have helped ensure you are better in the long run, then that’s great too. I look forward to sharing a drink with you in a few years when we can look back on this exciting time, relishing our collective successes and reviewing our failures (of which I hope there are few).

Remember, choosing a Registry Services Provider is the biggest decision you will make in the life of your TLD. The provider you select now will play a critical role in not only the success of your application to ICANN, but the ongoing security, stability and integrity of your new Top-Level Domain.

So applicants, I beg you. Beware of the fine print and ensure you compare those apples. The success or failure of your TLD is at stake.

By Adrian Kinderis, CEO of ARI Registry Services

An ITU cut and paste job for new TLDs could cost $150k

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

By Chris Wright

It was with great interest that I read a recent announcement about a plan by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) to publish template answers on a wiki for the 22 questions relating to registry technical operations contained within ICANN’s new Top-Level Domain Applicant Guidebook.

As someone who has spent the best part of six years following the development of the program (witnessing first-hand each evolution of the Applicant Guidebook) my first thought was one of bemusement – How can a generic solution taken “off the shelf” accurately demonstrate whether an applicant is capable of understanding the technical requirements for setting up and operating a new Top-Level Domain?

Quite frankly, it can’t.

The application process for new Top-Level Domains (TLD) has been carefully designed by ICANN to thoroughly examine whether an applicant has performed the required research to adequately understand what it means to own and operate a vital piece of Internet infrastructure. Operating a TLD is a huge responsibility that should not be taken lightly. The application process has been created in its current format to determine this.

For the applicant, the risk of landing in Extended Evaluation, ICANN’s special audit system for applications that require further attention, is far too great to be toying with a one size fits all approach. In an attempt to save money, applicants will instead be at risk of losing at least $150,000 should their application fail the evaluation criteria set by ICANN.

While consultants working closely with the ITU are correct in stating that applicants do not have to be currently operating Domain Name Registry Systems, they still must identify the technical solution that supports the specific Registry requirements of the application in question. The financial and organisational descriptions must do the same.

The solution proposed by the ITU becomes even more unrealistic when you consider the following:

 • Registry technical operations must identify the intended registry system specifications such as: domain name lifecycle, servers, software, infrastructure, data centres, bandwidth providers, policies & procedures etc. Those who know will agree that this is impossible to do generically.

• Any Registry Services provider worth a pinch of salt is offering the ‘technical operations’ component of the application free of charge with their back-end registry services solution. One has to question whether the approach suggested by the ITU is one that delivers a significant increase in risk without actually delivering any tangible cost reduction?

• This is not a turnkey solution. Applicants will still be required to provide answers to non technical and financial sections, answers which need to be consistent with the information provided in the technical sections of the application, so those who consider the ITU’s approach will struggle to establish consistency throughout all sections of the application.

• Without having properly researched, designed and finally settled on a technical solution, whether that be to outsource to industry experts, or build in-house, Applicants will not have the ability to identify information for other areas of the application such as Registry set up and operational costs that will be critical to the successful development of sound and accurate financials. Further, how will applicants be able to demonstrate to ICANN that the technical specifications provided can be delivered on?

From my perspective, taking answers from another entity (whose content has no relation to any registry system (real or proposed)) clearly demonstrates two things: 1) You are proficient with the cut and paste function of your keyboard and; 2) You clearly lack the understanding necessary to manage a critical piece of Internet infrastructure such as a new Top-Level Domain.

As any high school student can tell you, cutting and pasting answers from a wiki is prone to failure. Although the ITU claim that only ‘approved contributors’ will be able to edit the information, it is unclear how someone would be granted ‘approved contributor’ status. With the highly competitive nature of the TLD process, Applicants should be aware that the accuracy of the information contained within the template has the potential to be highly dubious and potentially even prone to subtle sabotage. I have no doubt that ICANN’s evaluators will be on the lookout for these responses, just like any good teacher would do.

The message to prospective applicants here is simple: If you show disrespect to the evaluators and don’t give the technical criteria of your application the attention it truly deserves, then why should they take your application seriously.

I am left with two equally horrifying questions: 1). Is this simply an attempt by the ITU to devalue and undermine the entire new TLD application process (and therefore ICANN)? 2). Does anyone at the ITU truly understand the goals of the application process and what it is intended to do?

Were the ITU’s ambitions truly altruistic, they would spend their efforts providing capability advice and skills to the community. This approach would be useful and would not water down the quality of submissions to ICANN, as this solution almost certainly will.

Finally, this blog does not set out to be self-serving. Yes, there is a level of confidence that comes with choosing a back-end registry provider that is established and experienced. However, ICANN has ensured that anyone who can fulfil the technical requirements will be awarded a TLD Registry. So, the point I am making is that the process of fulfilling the technical requirements of a new TLD Registry involves more than a simple cut and paste. It requires communicating a level of understanding that a new TLD is a piece of mission critical infrastructure and that there are enormous responsibilities that come with this.

Who is wagging who? Same dog, new tale.

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

By Adrian Kinderis

Today, my company AusRegistry International signed an open letter to the United States House Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition, and the Internet as a show of support for ICANN and its new Top-Level Domain program. I’m disappointed by the nature of the oversight hearing the Subcommittee has called and I believe it will only be a distraction.

Let’s not kid ourselves; the reason for this hearing is to beat up ICANN over the new TLD program. I think this is unfair and unjustified.

ICANN’s new TLD program has undergone extraordinarily thorough and inclusive discussions going back to ICANN’s incarnation in 1998, and in earnest since 2005. It is without question that rights holders be afforded reasonable protections. However, it must be fairly pointed out that since initiation of this discussion nearly six years ago, ICANN staff and participants (including rights holders, trademark representatives, and delegates of the US government), at significant expense, have accommodated the needs and demands of the IP community to prevent intellectual property theft or needless cost to IP owners.

This is why I’m at a loss for why this hearing has been called at such a late stage in the process, when we are so close to approving the program.

It frightens me that ICANN must jump when the US government calls a hearing on new TLDs. There is something fundamentally wrong with this situation; the global organisation dedicated to keeping the Internet secure, stable and interoperable should not feel such an imbalanced sense of accountability to one government – the US government.

ICANN’s acclaimed multi-stakeholder model means it’s accountable to numerous stakeholders, which include Internet users, Regional Internet Registries, Country Code Registries, several committees and councils, and the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) to name a few.  It’s important to remember that the US government forms just one part of the GAC, which is one stakeholder in the vast ecosystem that comprises ICANN.

It makes me think, if any other Government was to call a meeting would the ICANN Community feel as intimidated to participate. What gives them such sway and power and how does the rest of the GAC membership feel about this?

Furthermore, in the Affirmation of Commitments (AoC), ICANN committed to maintain and improve robust mechanisms for public input, accountability and transparency so as to ensure that the outcomes of its decision-making reflect the public interest and are accountable to all stakeholders. The AOC and the completion of the original agreement signalled a globalisation of the Internet and its governance. Yet, we still find ourselves at the mercy of the US government as demonstrated by  this House Subcommittee oversight hearing.

What is more intriguing is why the US Government is seemingly opposed to the implementation of the new TLD program and its associated benefits. It’s contradictory for the US Government to be speaking about the importance of stimulating the economy and job creation on one hand, and then to be also involved in stifling the new TLD program, which has the potential to drive innovation, create jobs, and boost the digital economy.

At ICANN’s recent meeting in San Francisco, former US President Bill Clinton said the technology sector should play a pivotal role in driving economic recovery. He recognised the importance of online innovation for a strong and sustainable economic climate and said information technology was a key driver of the American economy during his eight years in office. He said IT jobs represented 30 percent of the United States’ job growth and 35 percent of its income growth. It is my belief that new Top-Level Domain names are the most compelling opportunity for innovation the Internet has seen since its creation.

ICANN is in the final stages of executing a well developed plan that will see new TLDs and all the benefits associated with them approved later this year. To ICANN’s credit, they have worn the body blows from various sectors of the Community throughout this long, careful and calculated process. They have battled on working towards a solution that provides for the benefit of ALL stakeholders – an incredibly hard task. I understand that the US Government may have questions – however, ultimately they are one voice and not the only voice providing input into the process. The ICANN Community, including the GAC need to remember that.

By Adrian Kinderis, CEO, AusRegistry International

Vertical Integration for New gTLD Applicants… TICK!

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

By Tony Kirsch

In a major announcement hot off the ICANN Press, the Board has voted to eliminate all restrictions on the cross ownership of New gTLDs by Registrars. In a major surprise for many industry participants, this decision is a significant decision by the Board and will undoubtedly be a hot topic at the next ICANN Conference in Cartagena in December.

So what does this mean?

Under present policy, there has been clear separation between the Registry and the Registrar function for current TLDs such as .com and .info, effectively separating the retail and wholesale components of the Domain Name industry for the benefit of end users.

However, the outcome of today’s decision for new gTLD applicants means that Registrars will be allowed to apply for and operate their own TLDs as well as retail Domain Names within it to the end user, thus changing the industry forever!.

The positive of this resolution is that it is highly likely that we will see the adoption and growth of smaller, more boutique TLDs championed to market by their Registrar owners.  For many industry participants, anything that promotes the success of the new gTLD program and the reduced risk of Registry failure can only be seen as a good thing.

The Board appears to have provided resolutions in the recent release to overcome concerns that Registrars may be in a position to abuse data they may obtain as the retailer but we await further information regarding these specific policies that will appear in the upcoming Applicant Guidebook (version 5) due in the very near future.

The Applicant Guidebook will, as usual, be heavily scrutinised by industry participants and governments as we continue to push towards the final stages of the new gTLD program and public discussion in Cartagena.

Watch this space for more updates as more information on the new Applicant Guidebook comes to light….

Registry/Registrar Separation: clarifying the mess!

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

By Tony Kirsch

Do you keep hearing about this Registry/Registrar Separation (or Vertical Integration) issue but really aren’t sure what it’s all about?

This post should help you to get a better understanding of the details of this saga which is one of the most controversial, yet still unresolved issues within the new gTLD program.

The outcome of this debate will have a large impact on the final shape of the gTLD program and there is much at stake for those involved.  In simple terms,  the two positions are as follows;

a)    Pro-integration – argues that the currently mandated separation between Registrars and Registries is outdated and unnecessary.

As a result, for example, VeriSign is prohibited from selling domain names in .com and .net to end users as they are the Registry provider, with similar restrictions in place across other gTLDs such as .biz, .org and .info.

The background to this model was the former monopoly position enjoyed by Network Solutions as both the Registry and sole Registrar for the .com, .net and .org TLDs (VeriSign acquired Network Solutions in 2000 and subsequently sold the brand and the Registrar business in 2003).

Desired outcome: Registry operators will be able to also act as a Registrar for domain names in their own gTLD

b)    Pro-separation – argues that, should Registries be able to also act as Registrars in their own TLD, the risk of them misusing data regarding consumer demand is too high. This would be data that, as a Registry and Registrar in a TLD, would only be available to that applicant and may provide competitive advantage.

Desire outcome: Maintain the status quo situation for new gTLDs. A Registry would be prevented from selling domain names in their own gTLD but could own other TLDs provided they did not retail them.

Of course, there are variations on these positions but these are the salient points being argued by the community.

There have been significant revisions of the proposed policies relating to this issue in various versions of the Draft Applicant Guidebook and the argument has effectively gone around in circles. In particular, the CRA International paper that seemed to provide options that would suit the majority of participants was accepted by ICANN staff as a path forward in Draft Guidebook version 2. However, this was removed due to public pressure in Draft Guidebook version 3 and ICANN staff have continued to leave this issue open for public comment and guidance.

At the request of the Generic Names Supporting Organisation (GNSO), ICANN staff provided an issues paper for public comment in mid-December 2009 addressing the topic of Vertical Integration.  The purpose of this paper was to assist the Council in deciding whether it was acceptable to move forward with new gTLDs without a full Policy Development Process (PDP) to find a consensus-based resolution to this issue.

Note – Policy Development Processes are undertaken by the Council to make a wide range of gTLD policies and have historically taken at least six and sometimes greater than 12 months to complete. Not great news for those who have been waiting for new gTLDs for quite some time already.

This issues paper effectively said that;

a)    given that any outcomes from a PDP would be unlikely to alter the contracts of the existing Registries such as .com, and

b)    given that the GNSO could effectively help with the planning of the new gTLD program,

that ICANN staff recommend that a PDP be delayed until after the first round of new gTLDs is completed to allow time for more data to be gathered and to facilitate a better understanding of the potential impacts of the options to be considered.

Recently, it appears that this recommendation has been ignored by the GNSO Council and that that the issue of Registry/Registrar Separation is heading towards a PDP. This gives rise to new concerns about potential further delays in the new gTLD program and compounds existing industry perception about ICANN’s ability to work through these issues with any level of expediency.

Simultaneously and perhaps even more confusingly, the ICANN Board have suggested that this will be a topic of conversation at the Nairobi Board meeting in March and in a release yesterday stated that they would be publishing for community comment a new registry-registrar separation model for inclusion in the next draft of the gTLD agreement, due in June.

Confused? You’re not alone.

At this stage all we can do is hope for a clear process from the Expression of Interest and trust that between the Board and/or the GNSO that we remain focused on moving forward to a decision on this ongoing issue as soon as possible.

AusRegistry joins Registry Internet Safety Group

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

By Chris Wright

As part of our ongoing commitment to maintaining the highest levels of security within the .au domain space, AusRegistry International’s parent company AusRegistry has recently joined the Registry Internet Safety Group.

The Registry Internet Safety Group (RISG) is a global group of Top Level Domain Name Registries and other Internet-related companies whose mission is to work collaboratively to combat Internet identity theft.  RISG members and invited experts work together towards improving Internet security, developing domain name industry best practices and sharing information to improve overall Internet user security.

AusRegistry has built strong working relationships with industry stakeholders that help to ensure that the .au domain space continues to be one of the most secure large country code Top Level Domains.  These stakeholders include auDA, the .au Registrar community, AUSCERT and relevant law enforcement agencies as well as other Registries and Registrars within the wider Asia-Pacific region and further afield.

We look forward to building on these relationships as we support the mission of RISG to continue improving internet security for users worldwide.

For further information see the RISG website.