Return to tldapps Forum - Message Thread - FAQ

Username: VikashPatel
Date/Time: Tue, October 24, 2000 at 1:55 AM GMT
Browser: AOL Browser V5.0 using Windows 98
Score: 5
Subject: This Article is definitely worth a look!!!


      Battle heats up for dominance in Web domains
Bid details to be unveiled: Goliath's opponents fear competition will be stifled

David Akin
Financial Post

Melina Mara, National Post

CHRISTOPHER AMBLER: "NSI is the proverbial 900-pound gorilla ... They've got 98% market share."

As the process gets underway to select operators of new Internet domains with such lucrative tags as .sex, .biz and .health, some participants in the process are worried that competition and diversity in the nascent domain-name market will be stifled.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the not-for-profit organization charged with co-ordinating the rules on domain names and other key technical functions of the Internet, today will release details on the 47 applications it received this month to open and operate new top-level domains. ICANN is expected to approve at least one application and possibly as many as 10 or 15 by mid-December.

For now, ICANN is receiving public comments on each application and, so far, one of the key issues to emerge is ICANN's ability to encourage competition in the domain-name business.

On that point, ICANN's board of directors will be asked to clarify the role Network Solutions Inc. (NSI), of Herndon, Va., a unit of Verisign Inc., of Mountain View, Calif., ought to play in the market it already dominates.

NSI is the operator of the dot-com domain, the most popular Internet domain in the world, with nearly 19 million domains allocated, each of which pays NSI an annual fee for the rights to use the name.

But even though NSI is already the dominant player in the industry, it is part of at least two applications ICANN is considering to operate new top-level domains.

NSI/Verisign is part of a coalition called Afilias LLC of New York that seeks to run .web, .info and .site. It will also be the operator of the .kids registry if an application by ICM Registry Inc. of Toronto is approved by ICANN.

The possibility of NSI/Verisign and other players who are already in the domain-names market being allocated a big chunk of a new part of that market has some, particularly its competitors, crying foul.

"NSI is the proverbial 900-pound gorilla," said Christopher Ambler, the president and chief technology officer of Image Online Design Inc. (IOD), of San Luis Obispo, Calif. "They've got tons of money. They've got 98% market share. This is ridiculous. In the United States, there's no other market that would even remotely allow that kind of dominance. Look what happened to Microsoft and Microsoft does not own 98% of the market. One of the things with NSI is that they've got a lot of fingers in a lot of pies."

"[Afilias] is a lot more than just NSI. They're just one of 19 shareholders," said John Kane, marketing task force leader for Afilias.

Mr. Kane said Afilias' market research indicated that the greatest demand for a top-level domain was the .web domain and that is its chief motive in pursuing the domain.

"We're going through an ICANN process and that generic top-level domain is not recognized by ICANN," Mr. Kane said.

IOD has been operating the top-level domain .web since 1995 and has, like Afilias, plunked down a US$50,000 non-refundable deposit for ICANN to approve its proposal to be the official .web registry operator.

IOD has signed up 20,000 customers who pay about US$35 a year for the right to a .web domain. (While master databases that run the Internet won't recognize an Internet address ending in .web, Internet users who fiddle a bit with their Web browsers can, in fact, connect to .web and other so-called alternative domains already up and running in advance of ICANN's stamp of approval.)

Ken Fockler, of Caledon, Ont., is one of two Canadians who sits on ICANN's 19-member board of directors and will have a vote on which new top-level domains are activated and who gets to run them.

"It would be nice to see the business spread around," Mr. Fockler said yesterday. "It's going to take some analysis on some of these things to peel them apart to see who's really a partner and who's just a contractor. There seems to be different levels of involvement. Now, I haven't seen the details, but I'm curious to see in the cases where an NSI/Verisign is involved, are they just a contractor providing the service and most of the creativity and the profits go to somebody else?

"I don't think the board is expected to be doing a lot of chatting and producing a lot of quotes, but I'd say the competition is an element that is needed and wanted and this is an opportunity to make sure it is spread out," Mr. Fockler said.

The other Canadian member of ICANN's board is Jonathan Cohen, an Ottawa-based lawyer. Mr. Cohen is in Europe and could not be reached yesterday.

ICANN has published the criteria it will use to examine each application. Its top priority is to ensure the Internet's stability. It is believed that all the applications have the requisite technical experience to run a stable domain space.

Beyond that, ICANN lists enhancement of competition and the enhancement of the usefulness of new top-level domains as two other important yardsticks it will use to measure the worth of new top-level domains.

"We're expecting that this whole process is going to be open and fair and that with it being open and fair, we don't see any reason why we're not going to be approved if nothing else on the history but also because they've put out the criteria and we've exceeded them all," Mr. Ambler said. "So here's hoping it will be open and fair."

The following is the link to the above article:


Message Thread:

Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Cookies Policy