ICANN to Start Accepting Proposals for .Net Registry

Jeff Berg
CYBERSPACE — The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers is expected to formally request proposals for the management of the .net domain framework Friday.

Currently overseen by VeriSign Inc., the same company the controls the .com framework, the contract for .net management will expire on June 30 and several companies are lining up to compete for future contracts.

While more than 30 million sites register within the more well-known .com top-level domain, many major websites, including Walmart.com and Amazon.com, run using the .net transport layer.

“Thirty-seven of the top 100 websites rely on .net, and about 37 percent of all e-commerce relies on .net to get to its destination,” Tom Galvin, vice president of government relations for VeriSign, told InformationWeek. “It’s vitally important that a year from now .net runs at least as well as, or better than, it’s running now.”

According to Galvin, approximately 150 billion emails flow through the .net TLD every day.

Among VeriSigns major competitors for the .net contract include German-based Deutches Network Information Center (DENIC), which is currently tasked with maintaining the registry for the .de domain.

NeuLevel Inc., the .biz registry handler, and Afilias Ltd., which handles the .info and .org registries, are also expected to submit .net proposals.

While ICANN has not released its formal request for proposals yet, it did request a consensus resolution, released on Wednesday, on the .net framework from its Generic Names Supporting Organization.

Among the criteria mentioned in the GNSO report are requirements that .net domains remain un-sponsored and unrestricted, as well as a variety of technical and stability-related requirements.

VeriSign did tell XBiz that it intends to submit a bid for the new contract, but some analysts feel that the company’s less-than-smooth relationship with ICANN over the past two years may cause trouble.

VeriSign filed a lawsuit against ICANN in federal court in February, claiming that the international regulatory group tried to interfere with Verisign’s business plans by ordering the company to stop offering a service that would direct requests for mistyped domain names to a search page.

The case was eventually dismissed, but VeriSign refiled in the California state Supreme Court.

“We hope the decision on .net will be based on merit,” Galvin told InformationWeek. “The dispute is where ICANN’s authority is to dictate services. We’re looking for clarity.”

According to ICANN, a third-party firm will manage bidding and selection for the upcoming .net contract.