.NET Registry Successor

On June 30, 2005 the .NET Top Level domain registry agreement between ICANN and Verisign will effectively terminate. I have been watching the proccess off and on, staying informed, but not getting involved. This change is so different from the .ORG transfer of several years ago. With that transfer there was a specially created organization (PIR) under the guidance of a trusted internet authority (ISOC) who was almost certain to win the appointment.
The reassignment of .NET will be a much more major issue. The primary factors involved aren’t relevant to the operation of the TLD though. The issue of focus for this fight amoung potential registries is the cost of registration per domain. I personally think that the issue should be the amount that ICANN can trust the operator and the amount that the operator respects ICANN and IETF. The TLD registry function has become too much of a bussiness, it really shouldn’t be. The operator functions used to be totally non-commerical, until the creation of InterNIC. InterNIC was created because it had to exist to keep the number of registrations in .COM, .NET and .ORG to a managable number and to fund a more stable root level TLD DNS system. Once the Internet reached a level where it was no longer just some noble experiment that was being funded by the government and educational institutions, it basicly became responsible for its own funding. During the change from the open registry (pre-incorperated InterNIC) to the days of InterNIC and Network Solutions one TLD was spared the evil fate, .US, also reffered to as US-DOM. The .US TLD was adopted and operated by Dr. Jon Postel from its conception in 1985 to 1998, when Dr. Postel died. During that time there were no registration fees in .US and everything was conducted on a very personal level. When Dr. Postel died ISI continued on with his tradition until March 2001 when Verisign was appointed to succed them, in an attempt to make the TLD more widely used. On October 29, 2001 the Department of Commerce expanded the namespace to allow commerical registrations in the TLD, however, the locality namespace was preserved, allowing the tradition to continue. There is room for commericalism in the operation of a TLD, but it cant be the only reason for being a registry operator and be able to do it effectively. Verisign-GRS has burned too many bridges to retain its position, which is the reason for the selection proccess occuring instead of the registry agreement simply being renewed quietly. The application proccess for the new registry position has gotten quite ugly in the past few weeks, every applicant (with the exception of Afilias, “the Irish applicant”) is using the application forums as a place to mudsling against the other applicants. Aflias is currently my choice for .NET successor for that very reason. Judging from the letters to ICANN from various forces in the domain universe, the general concensus is that DENIC is the prefered successor, although I haven’t seen why yet. I can’t tell from the poor quality of the letters (see http://www.icann.org/tlds/dotnet-reassignment/dotnet-correspondence.htm) what the reason for this overwhelming support is for DENIC. Anyone who is for keeping Verisign wants to do so due to the simplification of the proccess by not breaking up the COM/NET team. I’ve got big news for those people, the team was COM/NET/ORG, and if one member can be removed, so can the others. On the other hand, it is very possile that COM/NET will be back together in 2007 when COM is considered for redelegation.
Many people are probably wondering why I care about this issue so much, well, its very simple: Chris and I both own three domains in the .NET TLD. I want to see the TLD treated well and operated with dignity. I don’t feel that Verisign has done very well at that. Sometimes things just need to change…