Do Not Extend The .Com Contract!
ICANN, This contract extension should not be considered. As others have already commented, this contract needs to be put out for a competitive bid. The only thing this contract extension does is that it protects the VeriSign monopoly over the .com top level domain and pads VeriSign's shareholders pockets with billions of dollars of free cash flow. As others have stated in the past, the .com registry should be operated for $1 or $2 per domain name per year. As technology advances, hardware becomes more powerful and IT infrastructure becomes cheaper and easier to deploy. There is no reason that .com domain prices should be so ridiculously high, just because one company holds a monopoly over operating a simple database. VeriSign, as a registry, does not even have customers outside of registrars. The registry amazingly does not maintain a database of more than only a few fields of data per domain name. And the registry is not even required to maintain whois records, as this is done by each individual domain name registrar. The process of operating a TLD is quite trivial, especially as we now have hundreds of companies doing it with the gTLD rollout. There is no reason that VeriSign should be given a presumptive right to renew the .com contract without putting it through a proper bid process where other companies can submit offers to run the registry. There is a good chance VeriSign will be re-awarded the contract through a competitive bid process, but ICANN cannot continue to allow the monopoly over .com domain names to continue as is. It is appalling that ICANN allow this egregious and gluttonous behavior to continue. Back in 2012 I commented on ICANN's public forum regarding the 2012 contract renewal: https://forum.icann.org/lists/com-renewal/msg00016.html At the time I had pointed out that bandwidth prices go down every year. Servers become more powerful every year. The overall costs of IT go down every year. And that VeriSign's network and infrastructure is already built. Now, more than 4 years later, we can see how true this really is. VeriSign's own 2015 Annual Report and 2016 Proxy report states "Our planned property and equipment expenditures for 2016 are anticipated to be between $40.0 million and $50.0 million and will primarily be focused on infrastructure upgrades and enhancements to our product portfolio." This is practically peanuts when revenues are over $1 billion per year, and non-GAAP operating margins for VeriSign are estimated to be as much as $726 million in 2016. Based on their own projections. In VeriSign's 2015 Annual Report the company promotes that the .com registration base "represents a 6% increase over the base at the end of the prior year." This is not from VeriSign's doing, but merely because .com is the most sought after domain name extension. And as the .com namespace grows and continues to become more valuable, VeriSign is making more and more windfall profits every year. VeriSign is already making boatloads of cash, hand over fist. VeriSign promotes this themselves in their most recent Annual Report stating "Revenues totaled $1,059 million for 2015, marking the fifth straight year of revenue expansion while steadily growing our margins and free cash flow." With such a lucrative monopoly, this is exactly why VeriSign wants an early renewal on the .com namespace. And for a longer period of time. VeriSign wants to lock in its gluttonously profitable monopoly. VeriSign is trying to pull a fast one by saying this is more secure and stable for the domain name system. However, it is obvious this EARLY EXTENSION is a greedy attempt to lock in one of this centuries most amazing deals, which is not in favor of the global Internet community. This contract renewal is only good for one company: VeriSign. ICANN's core values state that it should "[promote] competition in the registration of domain names where practicable and beneficial in the public interest." The mere consideration of an early contract extension on the .com contract with VeriSign at the current pricing is 100% against ICANN's core values. And a slap in the Internet Community's face. ICANN should not allow this early extension. Nor should ICANN even consider it. ICANN should encourage and promote competition. ICANN should work in the public's favor and do what is possible to force this contract to go to public tender, and/or to force VeriSign to change the gluttonous windfall rate that it has on the .com contract. Absolute worst case scenario, ICANN should work to force VeriSign into pricing that would at the very least reflect the profits VeriSign was making in 2012. But not protect this wildly profitable monopoly for an additional 10 years to come. The proposed early extension of the .com contract should not be considered!!! Keven Dabney Internet Professional and Evangelist