Registrars Oppose ICANN/VeriSign Deal
Eight of the world's largest domain registrars have sent an open letter to ICANN Chairman Vint Cerf, stating their formal opposition to the revised proposition with VeriSign for continued control of the Internet registry.
The eight signatories, which lay claim to 25 million domain names, or 57 percent of those currently registered, are GoDaddy, Network Solutions, Tucows, Register.com, BulkRegister, Schlund + Partner AG, Melbourne IT and Intercosmos Media Group.
In the letter, the group opposed two key items in the revised deal: Pricing and management rights.
Under the proposed new terms, VeriSign may raise wholesale costs for .com domains in four of the next 6 years.
The letter claims that VeriSign, the administrator of the .com domain name space since it was awarded the contract by ICANN in 2001, could execute the pricing increases "without cost justification."
The new deal would settle a legal dispute between VeriSign and ICANN. It also would extend the VeriSign's control over domain names until 2012 and allow for renewal when it expires.
The other issue that the eight domain registrars have a problem with is what the letter refers to as "perpetual management rights."
"The proposed revisions would modify the renewal clauses so that the contract is essentially non-cancellable and ICANN's right to rebid is taken away," the letter states.
The letter also hints that the deal may be illegal.
"The guarantee of an unregulated monopoly runs counter to the reasons behind why ICANN was created the policies of the anti-trust laws of the United States, and the competition policies of many nations worldwide."
The eight registrars are also concerned about "public accountability" and verification of the $200 million that VeriSign is supposed to be investing in .com infrastructure as stipulated in the new deal.
Bob Parsons, CEO and founder of GoDaddy.com commented that .com pricing should be declining, not rising, due to the inherent economies of scale.
".COM domain names still account for more than 80 percent of net new registrations," Parsons said in a statement.
"If there is any automatic change in pricing in the agreement, it should be for an annual decrease resulting from economies of scale and efficiencies that naturally occur in our industry."
Parsons also noted that, when ICANN opened up competitive bidding for the .net registry in 2005, the process ended up lower domain prices.
VeriSign was awarded the .net registry in March of 2005 after beating out four other bidders in a competitive process.
VeriSign and ICANN's revised proposition was a response to the registrars' opposition to the original deal reached back in October.
The open letter comes just a few days ahead of the Feb. 20 deadline for comments about the deal revision.