What if ICANN finally, after 12 years, created a process for adding new top level domains to the root — and nobody qualified to apply?

ICANN has released its new “Draft Applicant Guidebook” (DAG) for new top level domains. As promised, it contains draconian restrictions on cross-ownership and bans any vertical integration. These restrictions are intended to spur the warring economic interests involved to come to an agreement on issues related to cross ownership and vertical integration. The threat is, the squabbling kids have to come to a reasonable agreement, or Mommy takes all the toys away.

What does the DAG mean? Stated simply, almost all of the companies that are intending to apply for new top level domains will not qualify. Registrars cannot apply. Entities controlling or owning more than 2% of any class of securities of an ICANN-accredited registrar or any of its Affiliates cannot apply. Entities that are more than 2% owned by a registrar cannot apply. No forms of vertical integration will be allowed.

Everyone knows this is a silly policy. The reason this is being put forward is that the VI Working Group has not succeeded in coming up with a policy toward cross-ownership and vertical integration that most of the parties can agree on.

The main obstacle to an agreement now are the incumbent registry interests, especially Afilias. Afilias controls .info, .mobi and provides back-end services for .org and many other TLDs. Many registrar interests have proposed more flexible policies that would allow some innovation in business models so that new entrants into a market dominated by VeriSign and GoDaddy can have a chance. The Noncommercial interests and ccTLD interests have also shown some flexibility, as has Neustar. Afilias and its spokespeople, however, are trying to secure their spot as the permanent #2 player in the registry market by defining rules that keep registrars and other likely new entrants out of the market. Similarly, and depressingly, GoDaddy has decided that it is comfortable enough with its existing, leading market share (30-40%) to oppose rocking the boat. GoDaddy also wants to maintain the market status quo, making the excuse that any changes will delay implementation of the new TLD round. It's a pretty funny argument, given that under the proposed DAG4 rules, no one with any background and competitive capability will qualify to enter the market in the new TLD round. But that will suit Afilias and GoDaddy just fine – better to have a large share of a small market than risk being eclipsed by a rush of new entrants and business model innovations.

Every economics expert who has looked at the issue has suggested some loosening of registry-registrar separation. Hopefully, these draconian rules will provoke some movement from the intransigent business interests who are blocking progress in the working group.

The gTLD Draft Applicant Guidebook, Version 4:

ICANN's Explanatory Memoranda & Related Reports

14 thoughts on “What if they gave a new TLD party and nobody came?

  1. COZY Very COZY – Circle the .ORG Wagons
    ICANN does not want new TLDs and extra work
    ICANN million dollar (non-profit) salaries keep everyone happy
    Lynn St Amour likes her $17,000,000 annual compensation from Hal Lubsen (Afilias) for doing NOTHING
    The REAL road-block is the FTC. ICANN has been
    clearly selling Registrar and Registry FRANCHISES
    without the Proper Filings. Joe Sims has a loophole
    which is that those are “test” TLDs. ICANN does not
    want to become a real Franchiser with all those
    legal requirements. They may have to become
    FOR PROFIT (which they are).
    Meanwhile NANOG has their eye on those /8s in
    the Swamp to fund their NEWNOG. They are seeing
    ARIN's Deep Pockets. ARIN joined the ITU.
    Twomey is of course creating the new International
    layer with ICANN up with the ISOC in the
    Geneva-level Sky Boxes for DAVOS. NANOG
    moves in to take some of the NA roles. ICANN is
    moving up and (more) out of touch.

  2. Jon Postel would really be proud of the way
    The Community is protecting all their sources
    of revenue while claiming to be helping everyone.
    Verisign is laughing all the way to their next price increase. (July?)
    ICANN Board Member Steve Crocker continues to
    milk those U.S. Government DNSSEC [Secure the
    Root] contracts.
    As Mike Roberts said, capitalists will be prevented
    from exploiting the DNS for profit.
    Americans continue to see more examples of why
    they live in America. They are installing new DNS
    and routing around the ISOC and .ORG
    Esther Dyson is in and out of Moscow on a
    regular basis. Vinton Cerf and Al Gore continue
    to invent everything digital.

    @kierenmccarthy Four-word summary of gTLD latest draft: #ICANN is risk averse. Sadly, to the detriment of innovation
    Why would people put million dollar non-profit
    salaries, unlimited expense budgets, travel,
    meals, 5+star hotels AT RISK ?
    Many of them have done nothing to create the
    DNS industry or the Internet industry. They have
    not taken any risks. Most have been raised on
    not what you know but WHO you know.
    There are plenty of opportunities out there for
    people willing to take risks. Risk takers would
    not waste their time with ICANN or ISOC wonks.
    Risk takers trust FREE markets and freedom
    loving societies. The ISOC is not about freedom.

  4. Mike Roberts blames Competing Interests for ICANN Failure
    Wide-Spread Consensus ICANN has failed – Now What ?
    U.S. NTIA and FCC can solve the USA situation
    Will the ITU step in ?
    or will WICAN emerge ? World ICAN

  5. “What if they gave a new TLD party and nobody came?”
    More like: What if THEY are NOT Invited to the TLD Party.
    The ICANN TLDs are just market trials. They are
    used to attract domainers who are then INVITED
    to the Real Internet.
    Domainers with parked names are not invited.
    .ORG is of course not invited.
    See DLNA and uPNP
    Consumers just want their MTV MP3 and FREE XXX

  6. ICANN – Too Little TOO LATE
    Turning up the heat…
    RIDGEFIELD PARK, N. .J. – March 9, 2010 – Samsung Electronics America Inc., market leaders and award-winning innovators in consumer electronics, have launched Samsung Apps, the first HDTV-based application store where users can download applications from select 2010 Samsung HDTVs, Blu-ray Players and Home Theater systems via the upgraded Internet@TV – Content Service. Samsung Apps provides consumers with an expanded, easy to navigate selection of content and applications from leading services like The Associated Press, Netflix, Pandora, Twitter, USA TODAY, and VUDU. More than 20 apps will be available by the end of March*, with hundreds expected by the end of the year. The new application platform allows content owners and developers to develop apps that work across multiple devices for the ease and convenience of consumers.

  7. When Vinton Cerf invented the Television, he invited
    his high-school buddies Jon Postel and Steve Crocker
    over to his garage lab in California.
    Cerf was wearing his 3 piece suit at age 15, and
    has been wearing it ever since.
    The TV only had 2 channels. .PBS .ORG

  8. Vinton Cerf is behind the NANOG transition.
    Google is #3 Carrier
    They need those /8s to dominate the WorldCOM
    Will Bernie Ebbers get a new trial?
    NANOG Transition Plan
    Sylvie LaPerriere, Google Inc.
    Presentation Date: June 14, 2010, 4:30 PM – 6:00 PM
    The NANOG transition team along with Merit would like to have the opportunity to present the attendees:
    1) reasons for the transition
    2) transition plan
    3) continuing role of Merit
    4) open floor for Q&A

  9. The ISOC & ICANN FREE Audience Scam
    Think about it. YOU attend their FREE parties
    (meetings). THEY are being paid millions per
    year. YOU pay your travel, time, etc.
    YOU are the ISOC & ICANN Audience. With no
    audience, they have no game. YOU are fronting
    for them. You are the party.
    They are all being paid, non-profit of course.
    Who is the Public Benefit ?
    Who is “the Public” ?
    New suckers line up for each meeting (party).
    Suppose they gave a party and nobody came?
    Is the party their marketing event ?

  10. “What if they gave a new TLD party and nobody came?”
    What if they created a company and nobody came to work ?
    Has anyone seen an ICANN Org-Chart ?
    Once hired in at some lofty title or role and once
    the $40,000 per month checks start to arrive via
    “Payroll” does an ICANN employee have ANY
    direction ? accountability ? responsibility ?
    Is the game to fade into the wood-work and hope
    as many of those checks arrive as possible for
    as long as possible ?
    Or, is the game to stake out some industry role?
    and become semi-visible with no goal but to
    promote your name and look for that next gig ?
    Are the responsibilities so low that just being
    listed on the Staff Roster (supplying your name)
    becomes the major contribution ?
    Do people “work” remote and show up to the
    corporate hub as a name to send a check to ?
    Is it like a University with no students and no
    classes or curriculum ? Everyone is attached to
    the “Dean's Office” and is At Lunch ?

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