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Comment in regard to Pricing Caps

  • To: <gtld-intro@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Subject: Comment in regard to Pricing Caps
  • From: "Frank Schilling" <franks@xxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 21 Nov 2008 09:22:31 -0500

My concern relates to pricing caps on new registries, specifically where new
TLD contracts might be used as precedent for the dominant .com and .net
registries to re-craft their agreements in a similar fashion.


Ask any existing .com registrant if they would consider abandoning their
.com extension in favour of another, new, lower-priced extension and the
resounding answer would be 'no' .  The registries understand this and would
think nothing of re-engaging in monopolistic pricing of URL's if permitted
to do so by contract.


If launched at the same time, extensions such as .web or .info would have
been viable alternatives - and even more potent than .com or .net.  The
trouble is, you can't unwind history.  .COM names are desirable because they
have organic traffic (visitors) who search for generic names in their
address bar (as those names have meaning to them).  This domain-search
phenomenon exists in .com or net rather than .web, .info or others, because
COM/NET extensions were "first" and because millions of other sites built
their websites in these "first" namespaces. 


Those namespaces were adopted by the global population because their pricing
was sound, stable and equitable.  Just like people flock to a Country with
low taxes, liberty and opportunity for all;  domain registrants built their
homes (sites) in towns with hands-off governance, and stable prices.  When
name prices dropped from $35 retail per year to $8 or less after the launch
of Alabanza's BulkRegister.com and others in 1999, domain registrations
began to skyrocket, creating an unexpected windfall for the registries. In
2004 as domain tasting began worldwide, the registries saw another huge
leg-up in their installed registration base.


Today the domain-tasting window is effectively closed to new tasted
additions. There is a natural decay of the millions of existing tasted names
as Verisign's previous price increase from $6.42 to $6.86 makes many
existing registrations unviable; and a serious global recession/depression
will exacerbate the revenue-model problem. The existing registries are
probing for ways to keep their money-train rolling and existing
domain-registrants are their logical prey.  I urge ICANN to find the
strength to vigorously fight any push by Verisign to re-open pricing
discussions related to the dominant .com and .net registries.  Setting a
different kind of precedent in new GTLD contracts in the form of language
surrounding predatory price-increases that eclipse the CPI is a good place
to start.


ICANN simply can-not let this issue whisper by, just two years after so many
registrants leapt to protest variable pricing.  It would be the mother of
all Internet tragedies and a crippling blow to ICANN's relevance if millions
of pioneering registrants were taxed out of their internet homes as a result
of the greed of one registry and the benign neglect, apathy or tacit support
of its master.




Frank Schilling

Cayman Islands


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