Questions not answered -- which kind of auction?
- To: "auction-consultation@xxxxxxxxx" <auction-consultation@xxxxxxxxx>
- Subject: Questions not answered -- which kind of auction?
- From: Eric Brunner-Williams <ebw@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Wed, 3 Sep 2008 14:24:32 -0700
I was expecting something that would discuss the unique properties, if
any, of the domain name market, and the types of inventory theoretically
available to allocate, and the expected outcomes for the various types
of auctions, and some showing that for some desired policy goals,
whether greatest gain to seller or lowest loss to buyer, or something
entirely different, the expected outcomes.
This would assist the better informed, bottom-up, stakeholder-driven,
consensus policy making.
Is the domain name market indistinguishable from the spectrum market? If
name spaces are distinguishable from units of spectrum, and the
curvature of the earth suggests that spectrum is, due to physics, only
locally unique, a property that would be if true here if multiple name
space roots were assumed to be true. I suspect that assumption is not
widely shared, at least by nominal seller and buyers, as that would have
some affect on value and price.
It is of course desirable, trendy even, to impute to some rather banal
market the exotic properties of another market, and the spectrum market
is full of exciting players, the crowns of national governments, the
capitalist barronies, robber and otherwise, survivors of regulation,
mergers, acquisitions and deregulation in the broadcast consumer content
and the broadcast consumer access markets, the churches, both the civic
religions of reform and equity, and the deists thumping their texts, and
a vibrant press making sure that the exciting narrative excludes
organized labor, social poverty, gender, and anything else that
distracts from a good story in the corporate media.
But are we few, we grungy few, from Verisign Global Registry Services
down to start-up would-be registries, actually that interesting, that
exciting? The Fourth Estate is not convinced. We don't get above the
fold in the dailies or the first minutes of the broadcast news unless
(a) someone recycles the fabricated quote that Al Gore invented the
internet, or (b) hacker wolves pull down another sick corporate caribou,
or (c) its red-baiting season somewhere.
Assume for the moment that the spectrum allocation model is applicable.
In New Zealand , spectrum is held jointly by Maori and Pekeha
polities, under the Treaty of Waitangi, and for all the failures in the
implementation of that model, it attempts to benefit Maori and Pekeha
not just Pekeha. In other territorial jurisdictions (see "physics",
above) there are other conditions. Which specific set of conditions of
the spectrum allocation model are applicable? The first ICANN Board to
approve new gTLDs adopted a model like New Zealand's, four of the
initial seven new gTLDs, .info, .biz, .name and .pro were non-sponsored,
and three of the initial seven new gTLDs, .aero, .coop, and .museum,
were sponsored. For all the failures in the implementation of that
model, it attempts to benefit speculators and communities, not just
So, which of single-sided or multi-sided, and if single-sided, which of
single bid or multi bid, and if single bid, which of sealed first price
or sealed second price, and if multi bid, which of buy-out, all-pay,
dutch, english, or reverse, are we to use? Here's a graphic:
Does the same answer offer reasonable expectations for the single letter
in the legacy TLDs allocation, assuming that goes forward, and for
late-phase irreconcilable multi-bidder string contention in the present
proposed new gTLD process? Is the answer the same where there are two or
more high-cap bidders? Where there is one high-cap bidder and one or
more low-cap bidders? Where there are two or more low-cap bidders?
Finally, since ICANN exists to transform a public single-source contract
market into a competitive private and public market, what are the rules
on Verisign? None? If none, how do "auctions" remain no worse than
neutral, and not regressive, towards that fundamental policy goal?
The consultant's letter, for it is little more than that, which waxes
lyrical on spectrum auctions, and auctions as theory, leaves me just as
ignorant after reading it quite a few times as I was when "a study" was
first proposed. Which kind of auction and why?
Bottom line to staff. The pie is not done. The crust is soggy and the
filling is cold. Place back in oven. Check oven is lit. Else start a
PDP. It can't be worse than the FF PDP, and some of us have given the
matter a bit of thought.
 Attorney-General v New Zealand Maori Council (No 1)  2 NZLR
129 and (No 2) 147 (Radio Spectrum)
 New Zealand Maori Council v Attorney-General  2 NZLR 576