[Comments-info-renewal-18mar19] A little bit of history repeating

Marcus Fauré faure at global-village.de
Fri Apr 26 12:57:56 UTC 2019

For those of you who have not been around, ICANN once sued Verisign for introducing a wildcard in their TLD which was against the ICANN-VGRS agreement. Most lawyers say ICANN would have won the case. However, the parties agreed to the brilliant plan to drop the case and instead introduce the possibility to increase domain prices by up to 7% per year. Back then .com registrations were 6 USD a piece. Vint Cerf, the then-chair of the ICANN board, pushed for the settlement against opposition of the community, the argument being that inflation is normal. Not mentioning that at the same time ICANN started receiving a per-domain registry fee after 'only' having received per-domain fee from registrars which multiplied ICANN's budget. The result - suit disappeared and both parties started filling their pockets with registrars paying the price.

The day after Vint left the board he announced that he would now be on the Verisign's payroll. Still, ICANN did not feel bad when producing a 'Tribute to Vint Cerf' DVD a few months later.

To me this was ICANN's fall from grace.

Now ICANN proposes to make the situation worse by targetting price caps again. Let's be clear: The situation of a multi-million domain name registry can in no way be compared to that of your avarage 5k nTLD. Many nTLDs are struggling to survive with a 20 - 30 USD price tag and it's not because their directors have fancy sport cars. In .info per-unit costs go one way: down. If you want to have an idea of the true cost, look and Germany's .de which is run by a cooperative. It's on the low end of single digits. Even during the .net rebid ten years ago one of the applicants proposed a unit price of 1 USD. Still Verisign managed to win the RFP with a multiple of that price. I still wonder why.

I was a board member of CORE for more than 10 years, CORE being a shareholder of Afilias who would benefit financially from dropping price caps. I dare say that my former CORE colleagues will still agree that this proposal is ill-advised. I have no doubt, though, that ICANN will present another fig leave that justifies its upcoming decision against better judgement. Still, it does not make it the right thing.

Marcus Fauré

Global Village GmbH
Mehrumer Str. 16
D46562 Voerde

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