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Comments on section 7.1 of the draft .net agreement

  • To: <net-rfp-general@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Subject: Comments on section 7.1 of the draft .net agreement
  • From: "Bruce Tonkin" <Bruce.Tonkin@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 14 Apr 2005 16:30:51 +1000

The current registry agreements include a section on equivalent access.

In the draft .net agreement the relevant section is:

Section 7.1 Registry-Registrar Agreement. 

(a) Access to Registry Services. Registry Operator shall make access to 
Registry Services, including the shared registration system, available
to all 
ICANN-accredited registrars, subject to the terms of the
Agreement attached as Appendix __ hereto. Registry Operator shall
provide all 
ICANN-accredited registrars following execution of the
Agreement, provided registrars are in compliance with such agreement, 
operational access to Registry Services, including the shared
registration system 
for the TLD. Such nondiscriminatory access shall include without
limitation the 

(i) All registrars (including any registrar affiliated with Registry 
Operator) can connect to the shared registration system gateway for the 
TLD via the Internet by utilizing the same maximum number of IP 
addresses and SSL certificate authentication; 

(ii) Registry Operator has made the current version of the registrar 
toolkit software accessible to all registrars and has made any updates 
available to all registrars on the same schedule; 

(iii) All registrars have the same level of access to customer support 
personnel via telephone, e-mail and Registry Operator's website; 

(iv) All registrars have the same level of access to registry resources
resolve registry/registrar or registrar/registrar disputes and technical

and/or administrative customer service issues; 

(v) All registrars have the same level of access to data generated by 
Registry Operator to reconcile their registration activities from
Operator's Web and ftp servers; 

(vi) All registrars may perform basic automated registrar account 
management functions using the same registrar tool made available to all

registrars by Registry Operator; and 

(vii) The shared registration system does not include, for purposes of 
providing discriminatory access, any algorithms or protocols that 
differentiate among registrars with respect to functionality, including 
database access, system priorities and overall performance. "

The origin of this text appears to be from:
http://www.icann.org/registrars/policy_statement.html , wherein section
III, paragraph H stated that " The registrar, if it is also a registry
administrator for the .com, .net, or .org TLD(s), will abide by the
following procedures to ensure that all accredited registrars have equal
access to the registry for that TLD".   Note that there is now  no
registrar that currently operates a gtld.

The text in section 7.1 above does not take into account the large range
of diversity in competitive domain name registrars.  There is no longer
one dominant registrar.  These registrars vary in terms of number of
names under management, as well as business model.  A one-size fits all
approach is inappropriate and is inconsistent with other competitive
industries.   It also prevents a registry operator from scaling its
registration resources cost effectively, without requiring some
registrars to cross-subsidize other registrars.    For example, a
registrar that offers a website with a signficant number of visitors
that wish to check for the availability of domain names, would generate
many more checks than a small registrar with a few visitors.   The lack
of TCP/IP connections available for some registrars accessing some
registries is beginning to hamper their ability to grow without having
to resort to establishing extra accreditations.

Registries should be able to provide TCP/IP connection resources
sufficient for each registrar to operate at their scale and chosen
business model.   Registries should be required to provide equitable
access and ensure that a particular registrar is not able to gain a
competitive advantage in the registration of names through preferential
access.  Note that with respect to operations such as check, renew,
modification etc - a registrar should be able to access connection
bandwidth that scales with the size of their operations (and hence the
number of such operations that need to be performed).

Part (i) and (vii) of the proposed section 7.1 are overly restrictive,
and are more likely to lead to gaming of the registrar accreditation

ICANN may consider requiring registrars to 
"Not represent to any person that the registrar enjoys access to the
Registry that is superior to that of any other accredited registrar".
(extracted from :
http://www.auda.org.au/pdf/auda-registrar-agreementv2.pdf , clause

With respect to the registry operator, I recommend replacing section 7.1
with a simpler clause that offers some flexibility for the registry
operator and registrars:

"The Registry Operator must deal with all registrars on an equitable
basis, and must not discriminate between different registrars".
(extracted from the .au registry operator agreement)

The term "equal" has been replaced by "equitable".   Note that equal
would only be appropriate if all registrars were "equal" businesses,
which they are not.

This is consistent with the letter from Tina Dam to gtld registry
operators which related to a request to increase the connection
bandwidth for a registrar that was planning a significant increase in


"all registrars will still be able to register new domain names as their
demand requires and the pursuit of this opportunity by one registrar
does not preclude others form pursuing similar endeavors. "

Bruce Tonkin
Melbourne IT

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