Spectral Web, Inc.
“Spectral Web, Inc.’s Comments on the Examiner's Report
on Image Online Design, Inc.”
Forum: “ICANN Public Comment Forum ~ Forum
on New TLD Applications II”
Submitted: 11 November 2000
5 November 2000, Spectral Web, Inc. submitted its statement on the matter of new
gTLDs to ICANN's New gTLD public comment board.
Twenty-four hardcopies of this statement were also postal mailed to ICANN’s headquarters
at the following address:
4676 Admiralty Way
Marina del Rey
The twenty-four packages, each containing a copy of the same fourteen
page document, were respectively delivered to Michael Roberts, Esther Dyson, Amadeu
Abril i Abril, Robert Blokzijl, Geraldine Capdeboscq, Vinton G. Cerf, Jonathan Cohen,
George Conrades, Greg Crew, Philip Davidson, Frank Fitzsimmons, Ken Fockler, Hans
Kraaijenbrink, Sang-Hyon Kyong, Jun Murai, Alejandro Pisanty, Helmut Schink, Eugenio
Triana, Linda S. Wilson, Karl Auerbach, Ivan Moura Campos, Masanobu Katoh, Andy Mueller-Maguhn
and Nii Quaynor
In that statement, Spectral Web,
supports .web for Image Online Design, Inc.
* supports .shop
* supports .museum for Museum Domain Management
* supports .kids as “a very desirable,
very necessary gTLD,” though Spectral Web did not feel entirely pleased with any
of the current .kids applicants.
Currently, Spectral Web would like
to comment on the examiner's report on Image Online Design. In addition to posting
this statement, Spectral Web will both email and postal mail the statement to the
above-mentioned ICANN directors, to media sources and to the appropriate political
Furthermore, Spectral Web will issue additional statements regarding the
reports on Name.Space.com, Museum Domain Management Association, Blueberry Hill,
Inc., DotKids, Inc., KIDS Domain, Inc. and ICM Registry Inc.
Inc. is familiar with Image Online Design, its history, the TLD it pioneered and
the role it has been playing in the process. While Spectral Web appreciates that
all aspects of all applications need to be scrutinized, Spectral Web is distressed
by the seeming lack of objectivity evidenced by the examiners in this report. In
fact, looking not merely to the report on Image Online Design but to all reports,
it is clear that analysis is often erroneous, inconsistent, biased, illogical, superficial
Spectral Web respectfully advises ICANN to be fair, reasonable
and prudent in the days and weeks to come. With so much careless, clumsy and flippant
work having been generated by the examiners; so much that is unsubstantiated; so
much that is glossed over; so much in error; so much clear irregularity and potential
for impropriety, ICANN's entire application process, including the $50,000 fee, comes
into question. Given the sketchiness, hastiness, impartiality of the respective reports,
Spectral Web notes that the $50,000 fee seems altogether unwarranted.
Web feels that given the multitude of "errors," the examiners might have intentionally
misrepresented the overall strength and viability of Image Online Design. This is
a curious point, because in order to discount Image Online Design, the examiner had
to fabricate data, leave opinions unsubstantiated, speculate baselessly and ignore
strengths. If Image Online Design were truly unprepared for the task of running .web
in a more official capacity than it already does, the examiners would have no need
to fictionalize. If the examiners did indeed intentionally fictionalize, their perceived
need here illustrates their recognition of Image Online Design's viability.
examples of bias, inconsistency and erroneous reporting are now a matter of public
record, and further advance the case for Image Online Design.
The matter of the six-month timeframe for accepting
registrars other than Image Online Design has been discussed at length. Initially,
Image Online Design thought that six months would be required to finish developing
and testing the registrar protocol system. However, in their flexibility, they have
reassessed and have determined that a 30 to 60 day time frame is feasible.
Spectral Web thinks that the original six-month projection was reasonable. Network
Solutions enjoyed being the singular registry for far more than six months, and their
own transition time was hardly rushed.
Secondly, given that the timeframe from
TLD approval to online availability itself will be 60 or more days, Spectral Web
would like to point out that this protocol might be available and in place on the
very first day of .web's rollout.
Thirdly, please note another example of the examiner's
bias in that it praised Neustar who itself indicated an expected six to nine month
Fourthly, Afilias originally wanted to exclude all registrars not currently
members, and only later stated it would accept new registrars; yet it has not indicated
any kind of timeframe. This might translate into years. Yet again though, this applicant
was deeply praised. Please note that the tone and tenor of Afilias' interest
in the Internet community and in market fairness is precisely that as evidenced by
Network Solutions to date.
So why does the examiner's report regard Image Online
Design's application as being flawed for the original six-month projection?
Web is also deeply disheartened by ICANN itself. When Image Online Design indicated
to ICANN that it would now commit to a 30 to 60 day timeframe, ICANN chastised Image
Online Design for making an amendment to the application. Clearly this is another
example of the "Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don't" Principle. Spectral Web requests
that ICANN be reasonable and fair, and recognize that such flexibility in an applicant
should be commended, not condemned. Furthermore, was Afilias commended or condemned
when it changed its mind about excluding all outside registrars?
does not seem to recognize that Image Online Design, unlike its competitors, has
a database already prepared to be entered into the Internet root. All other proposals
talk about theoretical databases; yet databases cannot exist merely on paper.
frustrating is that the examiner's report states that Image Online Design is not
prepared to scale; yet Image Online Design has already proven it can. Without proper
substantiation, the examiners comments are meaningless opinions. Spectral Web is
saddened that ICANN has employed such questionable service. The examiner's
"work," quite simply, has diminished this process.
The report states
that 20,000 registrants is too low a registration base to determine database viability.
However, this statement,
* negates the years that the databases
have been running.
* condemns every applicant from the word
"go," as the examiners feel
that a prerequisite for
being approved registry status is having been
Given the Names Council declaration on "preregistrations,"
Spectral Web respectfully suggests that all reasoning here is in
accordance to the "Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don't" Principle.
Clearly, we come to circular reasoning, which brings
us back to the
matters of industry monopolization,
unfair policies and practices against
(other than NSI and current registrars), ICANN's open
application process and the $50,000 fee.
Quite simply, if Image Online Design's
20,000 registration base does not prove viability, then ICANN must never approve
an applicant with anything less than ten times that amount. Or is 200,000 also too
short a track record? Where shall the arbitrary line be drawn?
examiners did not condemn other applications for having *no* evidence of database
viability in the absence of a registration base. This also indicates bias. Again,
it is a matter of public record and is discernible to laymen and the most casual
Why does the report inaccurately state that Image Online
Design's registry will provide 28.6 TPS, when the figure is clearly a lot higher?
Why has an amendment not been made? To judge an application on erroneous information
is not only unethical; Spectral Web questions the legality.
Online Design's registry can scale both horizontally and vertically, a feature ignored
by the examiners in Image Online Design's case, but one which the examiners praised
in Afilias' case.
Upon reading Christopher Ambler's public call to
more closely compare Afilias' and Image Online Design's respective technical sections
to the applications, Spectral Web must agree that the performance numbers fall within
5 % of one another, indicating yet again, the inherent bias of the examiners. As
Mr. Ambler muses, "We're called inadequate, and they're praised?" (http://www.icann.org/cgi-bin/mbx/rpgmessage.cgi?tldreport;3A0DD02A0000016E)
must be made to see this point. It is a point that will not simply go away when the
examiner walks away.
Further distressing is Mr. Ambler's testimony in the above
linked statement in which ICANN was invited to tour Image Online Design's facilities
and "demonstrate the scaling abilities first-hand," only to later cancel the consultation
The report states, "It is not clear if IOD can manage the higher
level of capacity. Its simulations suggest it can, but IOD has no experience operating
any kind of system at this scale."
Spectral Web finds this statement to be specious,
as the only entity that has formal experience in this matter is Network Solutions.
In essence, the logic being used is, no entity should be granted rights to a popular
TLD other than Network Solutions. This brings us back to Square One regarding monopolies,
competition and the credibility of the application process.
The examiner's report is in error with regard to Image Online
Design's current financial strength. While $450,000 is available today in the form
of cash, Image Online has commitments of $2 million imminently, and an additional
$6 million upon approval. Additionally, Image Online Design has a credit letter
which promises to discuss the possibility of further funds.
Image Online Design
has already spent $1 million developing, improving and smoothening out its
databases. This is a necessity that other applicants have yet to secure; then the
equipment these other applicants must buy, would have to be installed and tested.
the $450,000 that the examiner quotes is in error. What remains to be answered
is "How credible is the examiner, given the frequency of these 'errors?' "
For that matter, given this frequency and given the extreme slant that is given,
how likely is it that the examiners are intentionally misleading ICANN?
The examiner states that Image Online Design's financial projections are questionable;
yet no explanation or counter-projection is provided, making the examiner's statement
III. Market Matters
In the past, ICANN
has recognized that competition was a main concern when it comes to the matter of
new TLDs. (http://www.icann.org/yokohama/new-tld-topic.htm#IIC1). This necessity
was furthermore very significantly detailed in the White Paper (http://www.ntia.doc.gov/ntiahome/domainname/6_5_98dns.htm).
if ICANN is to approve Afilias for any gTLD at all, given the participants within
that conglomeration, ICANN will have systematically and intentionally obliterated
competition in the domain industry and handed over to Network Solutions yet another
desirable gTLD. Given that Network Solutions currently enjoys the vast majority of
market profits, broadening its grasp would be unconscionable and might put ICANN
into a position of explaining its role in a possible antitrust dilemma. True competition
is derived from permitting new blood into the arena, not by shuffling around current
players (NSI and registrars). It is meritous that that while Image Online offers
significant balance in the market, they are not entirely new to the game.
Image Online Design's history with .web, it hardly seems defensible that Afilias
or any other entity should be granted the .web TLD itself, when Afilias and other
parties ask for other gTLDs within their application. This statement acknowledges
that ICANN might, against fair judgment, recognize Afilias in this process.
short, if ICANN feels that granting Afilias a new gTLD would not be unethical or
in violation of any antitrust laws (though Spectral Web strenuously disagrees), to
choose .web to be that gTLD is highly suspect, given that there are other options
within said application. ICANN's interests and the participation of some of its members
in Afilias' application will naturally fall under observation and criticism.
simply, if Afilias is to be granted anything, it should be .site or .info; and .web
should be rightfully granted to Image Online Design.
ICANN has asked
for a proof of concept for all new TLDs. Image Online Design, through their labors,
have proven the proof of concept with regard to .web. The other applicants have done
nothing in this regard, but rather seek to benefit from Image Online Design's labors.
The examiners' report condemns the $15 domain fee; however, there seems little
justification for this. Furthermore, Spectral Web thinks it is specious of any entity
to ignore that which Image Online Design clearly identifies: the market will determine
the cost. Though the examiners are free to issue their opinion on the matter as baseless
as that opinion might be, it is not within ICANN's charter to regulate price. ICANN
should only provide competition--true competition--and allow the market to determine
ultimate pricing. Furthermore, Spectral Web does not find either $15 or $35 to be
The examiner states, "(The $15 price) is at least two and a half times
the registry prices anticipated by others in this category. This higher price is
likely to deter registrars and potential registrants." However, Spectral
Web believes this statement to be totally fallacious. Firstly, with the initial registration
fee of $70, Network Solutions did remarkably well in its early days. Furthermore,
the virgin territory of the .web namespace will be more than enough enticement to
both registrars and registrants; quite simply, with so many nice domain names open
for registration, the expense of $15 or $35 is minuscule. The market is ripe for
an incalculable number of interested parties. With all due respect, Spectral Web
does not think that the examiners have a grasp of the magnitude of this industry.
Though Image Online Design has been a part of the process
for such a long time and has pioneered the .web registry under direct instruction
to do so, it has never sat on its laurels but rather has constantly moved its operations
forward; yet ICANN continues to ignore the history of Image Online Design. Given
that ICANN will no doubt, today and in a future rollout, award TLDs to less tested,
less tried, less proven and less prepared applicants, it is incumbent upon ICANN
to finally acknowledge Image Online Design's record; the alternative has too many
repercussions not merely to Image Online Design, its close to 20,000 registrants,
the Internet community and industry fairness, but upon ICANN itself, who every time
they award a TLD to an entity less prepared than Image Online Design, initiates a
revisit to an anti-IOD ruling.
Conversely, by bringing in new blood, ICANN illustrates
to the world that this industry and ICANN's operations are not fettered by corruption,
bias or nepotism.
Image Online Design has been in operation
since 1996, not merely surviving, but flourishing. Given the sharks that occupy these
waters, Spectral Web maintains that Image Online Design's history of endurance is
a testament to its viability.
The examining team criticizes Image
Online Design's CEO and COO for not having technical skills. Yet this is not a prerequisite.
Nor is it relevant. Their roles are to function as business managers, not as technicians.
The logic ICANN uses here is akin to logic that mandates that the manager of a bakery
know how to build and fix ovens. This person does not need to know these matters.
He or she needs to know how to run and manage a business, which clearly the CEO and
COO have proven. As for the technical knowledge: that is why specialists are hired
To illustrate this point, pardon the following irreverence--but
how equipped to run the day-to-day technical operations of the root are the ICANN
directors? Can they handle failures? Instability? Can they troubleshoot? Respectfully,
Spectral Web does not believe that many of the said persons are specialists in these
areas; no doubt, some like Vinton G. Cerf are, but this is the exception rather than
the rule. So for the most part, non-specialists within ICANN preside over the Internet
Furthermore, Spectral Web does not find in the examiners' report on Afilias
or Neustar or anywhere else that the respective CEOs and COOs are required to have
technological expertise. Even more condemning is the matter of Afilias' technical
personnel: they have none. It is insufficient to say that there are certainly members
within the conglomeration that will assume the necessary roles. Spectral Web wants
to know who these individuals are. Before this functions can be reviewed, it must
be fulfilled. Anything less and there exists a vacuum in Afilias' application.
it is unrealistic to expect that any applicant should be operating with 1,000 or
more employees in the field prior to approval. The report offers paradoxical reasoning.
Clearly, the only entities within the domain registry field with that kind of existing
employee base is Network Solutions and the handful of registrars. This lends itself
to circular reasoning, reasoning that in the end excludes all but current industry
participants. This not only negates competition; it negates ICANN's open application
process in which ICANN has, to date, garnered $50,000 per applicant. In short, why
did ICANN accept these fees if ICANN does not care to regard non-players?
the examiners criticize Image Online Design for identifying a 70-person staffing
need, the examiners do not bother to identify this same matter in the competing applications.
The team stated that "A failure to service a global customer base
on a 24 x 7 basis, particularly during the initial startup period, could fatally
damage the reputation of the new TLD."
Firstly, Spectral Web does not believe that
such a system's failure is likely, given the history of the databases and the reports
Image Online Design has generated.
Secondly, the above quote is entirely speculative
and, not atypical of this examiner, unsubstantiated. Follow-up logic is not even
Thirdly, ICANN's charter does not include monitoring the reputation of
various TLDs. This has not been evidenced as it relates to .tv, .cc, .fm, .md, .ws,
.tv is for Tuvala, not for matters involving the television
.md is for Moldova, not for matter related to the medical
.bz is for Belize, not for generic business interests,
as in "biz."
.fm is for Micronesia, not for matters related to radio
.ws is for Western Samoa, not for "World Site," "Web
Site" or any such thing.
.cc is for Cocos Islands, not for "Commercial
Fourthly, the reputation of a TLD is not determined by a
registry's 24 X 7 status; it is determined by how the TLD is developed by individuals
and businesses, and how said individuals and businesses market their websites and
develop their operations. This, more than any other element, is what will impact
the general Internet user. Given the self-evidence of this point, the examiner's
above quote seems so obviously incorrect and Spectral Web questions the credentials
of the examiner.
Still, Spectral Web maintains that Image Online Design will be
able to operate at, or extraordinarily close to, a 24 X 7 basis. Nonetheless,
a few minutes or hours short of a 24 X 7 operating schedule for any TLD will itself
have no impact whatsoever on the reputation of said TLD.
V. Legal Matters
Web also feels that the offer Image Online Design's competitors have made to ICANN
in the matter of "indemnification" is severely dubious, might stand on legally shaky
grounds, and is a public relations nightmare--for this offer may not be perceived
as an indemnification clause so much as a bribe. This is something to which ICANN
must not be party.
VI. Additional Matters
wants to emphasize the illegitimacy of Neustar's application for .web, especially
since Melbourne IT left the partnership. This glaring vacuum only makes the examiner's
report on this application that much more incredulous. Neustar was praised as being
a viable candidate for .web despite the fact that their crucial alliance has shattered.
examiner only mentions the departure as a footnote, and does not explain the enormous
impact that this departure has on the application. Spectral Web asks ICANN to examine
the possible motivation, and consider the possibility of bias.
continually ignores the IANA component. The truth of the matter is, IANA authorized
that Image Online Design commence operations. To be certain, this may very
well not be enough to warrant approving Image Online Design; but nor is it to be
ignored. In the event that ICANN rejects Image Online Design's application, Spectral
Web believes that the matter of this authorization will appropriately resurface.
Web once again thanks ICANN for the opportunity to voice thoughts and concerns in
Spectral Web will issue additional statements regarding the
reports on Name.Space.com, Museum Domain Management Association, Blueberry Hill,
Inc., DotKids, Inc., KIDS Domain, Inc. and ICM Registry Inc. These were categories
Spectral Web covered in its statement issued on ICANN's previous public comment board.
prepared by Spectral Web, Inc.