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New Domain Registrars Can't; ICANN Won't

By rusty in News
Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 07:46:08 PM EST
Tags: Internet (all tags)

ICANN: "The new domain registrars are broke."
Domain Registrars: "ICANN is legally incompetent."

That's the gist of yesterday's ZDNet article, which reports that the seven ill-conceived new TLD's approved by ICANN in November are likely to be several months behind schedule.

According to ZDNet, you'll have to wait a while before you can register that spanking new ".museum" domain you've been itching to get. It seems that some of the companies chosen to operate the new domains are in "financial trouble," despite the careful business review done by ICANN before they were approved.

RegistryPro, chosen to administer the fantastically useful ".pro" TLD, denies it is in any financial trouble. Apparently having one of it's backers drop out doesn't count as "financial trouble." I guess these days, you're not officially in financial trouble unless you're funded by Idealab! (TM). RegistryPro is backed by Virtual Internet plc and register.com, both obvious paragons of financial health, but no longer has the "technology support" of Baltimore Technologies.

In fact, says RegistryPro CEO Sloan Gaon, the delays are due to ICANN's legal inexperience (originally thought to be the perfect complement to their technical and managerial inexperience). "Everyone was under the belief that ICANN would have the contracts concluded and executed by the end of last year, but that process has been pushed back," he told ZDNet. Which is a real shame, because if they had finished up all the details last year, we could be reporting that big chunks of the internet would soon be inaccessable unless you had memorized IP numbers, which would be a much more interesting story.

Other new TLD registrars include:

  • Neulevel, who got the nod to manage the ".biz" domain, and are partly backed by Melbourne IT, currently rock solid at very nearly a dollar a share.
  • Afilias Inc., approved to administer ".info", is a consortium of 18 domain registration companies, including Register.com, Network Solutions (remember them?), and Enter-Price Multimedia AG ("a B2B service provider that assists companies in establishing an 'identity' on the Internet through the registration of unique domain names." I'm not making this up!). And you thought NSI alone was bad...
So for now, the holy trinity of com, net, and org soldiers on (more or less) alone. We can only hope that ICANN continues to waffle and flounder until better alternatives get off the ground.


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Related Links
o ZDNet
o ZDNet article
o seven ill-conceived new TLD's
o RegistryPr o
o Idealab! (TM)
o Virtual Internet plc
o register.c om
o technology support
o Baltimore Technologies
o Other new TLD registrars
o Neulevel
o Melbourne IT
o Afilias Inc.
o 18 domain registration companies
o Network Solutions
o Enter-Pric e Multimedia AG
o better alternatives
o Also by rusty

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New Domain Registrars Can't; ICANN Won't | 11 comments (8 topical, 3 editorial, 0 hidden)
question (3.33 / 3) (#3)
by rebelcool on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 03:20:30 PM EST

can only the registrars who petitioned for the new tlds actually be allowed to create them? So only one company can make the .biz addresses and so on?

Thats absurd. What monkey came up with *that* idea? If a registrar goes under you just screwed all the clients who have that tld, which is completely opposite from what the entire internet is supposed to be.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site

That was the idea (4.50 / 4) (#4)
by rusty on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 04:43:54 PM EST

That's pretty much how ICANN sees it working. That is, they grant FooBar LLC the sole right to create .foo domain names. This, in itself, makes some sense. If more than one organization is out there claiming to have the "authoritative" .foo root server, well, that's not a good situation.

Where ICANN falls down is in it's requirements for who can do what, and in presuming that it's the only body with any right to distribute TLD's in the first place. There are already several bodies who are accepting charters for new TLD's, and most of them don't require that a sponsoring organization fit any criteria other than having a charter. This is how OpenNIC works, for example. You propose a TLD, the membership votes on it, and if you're approved, you can go start accepting registrations.

Yes, when you have one body managing a TLD, there's some risk that that TLD may at some point become unavailable. I say, let the market work it out. That is, it's not ICANN, or OpenNIC's job to determine if the sponsoring organization will be around forever. Only to decide if they have a reasonable charter.

What ICANN should be is a dispute resolution body between the independent TLD systems, and nothing more. We don't need them to manage the DNS system. There's already a perfectly good body of organizations doing what ICANN was supposed to have done years ago. All that's really needed is some kind of impartial panel that independent root services are willing to abide by, to prevent collisions. And even that, as far as I'm concerned, is fairly secondary. If you think a TLD is going to fail, don't use it, it's that simple. The more they try to micromanage this, the less efficient it seems to get.

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

the way i see it... (none / 0) (#6)
by rebelcool on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 06:13:49 PM EST

and im by no means an expert on how the registration system and all the companies work, but I see it this way:

Any company can process registrations for .com, .net and so on. Why not make it the same way for all the TLDs? It increases competition *and* safety of the registrations in case the registration company collapses.

Granted, you dont want more than one "authoritative" server, however, with the rest of the .com's and the like, there *is no* single authoritative server. it seems ridiculous that in a system designed to be widely distributed such as this, to introduce a monopolistic centralized server (or company) is entirely backwards and thought up by some middle-management moron.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

No single server? (none / 0) (#7)
by mbrubeck on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 06:35:41 PM EST

Well, technically there isn't a single authoritative server; there are thirteen. They are the root servers A.ROOT-SERVERS.NET through M.ROOT-SERVERS.NET, operated by various organizations under the supervision of ICANN and the IANA. These 13 root servers are responsible for the com, net, and org TLDs as well as the highest (".") level of the domain name system.

[ Parent ]
yes (none / 0) (#8)
by rebelcool on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 07:19:05 PM EST


COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

What? (none / 0) (#10)
by mbrubeck on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 11:40:24 PM EST

What do you mean, "exactly"? I thought I was disagreeing with you. Sure, there may not be a "single server," but my point was that there are a very small number of servers, ultimately controlled by a single organization. A single group holds responsibility for all of com, net, and org -- hardly a "widely distributed" system.

The new TLD proposals would not "introduce a monopolistic centralized server (or company)." They would simply continue in the same vein as the existing gTLDs.

[ Parent ]

Different Registrars (4.00 / 2) (#9)
by rusty on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 08:33:31 PM EST

Ok, basic terminology difference. The only official registrar of .com, .net, and .org is Verisign, who bought Network Solutions (NSI). Their registration system is open to a number of different companies who can all sell domains to the public, but the other companies are like resellers. Ultimately, NSI gets their cut. In all my comments above, when I say "registrar" I don't necessarily mean any organization that can give/sell domains to the public, I mean the official managing body for a TLD. In the case of the existing "big three", the registrar is NSI.

The existing domains (all of them) and the DNS system in general do rely on having one authoritative root for a top-level domain (indeed, there's are authoritative roots at every level of the DNS tree). "One root" doesn't necessarily mean one server either; in the case of NSI's domains, as pointed out, there are several. But they will *always* agree. They act like one single server, in that there's no way for them to contradict each other. For the purposes of this discussion, they can be considered one server, in the same way a RAID array can be considered one filesystem.

The reason a single root for a given TLD is required is that DNS is heirarchical. See here for a good overview DNS, and a bit about how it came about (hint: it wasn't a MMM at all), and here for more resources on how DNS works.

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

The original non-ICANN .biz registrar (5.00 / 1) (#11)
by Robin Lionheart on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 06:17:54 AM EST

Neulevel, who got the nod to manage the ".biz" domain, and are partly backed by Melbourne IT, currently rock solid at very nearly a dollar a share.

Or you could go to BIZtld.net, the original non-ICANN .biz registrar, which has been registering .biz domains since 1995.

The unprecendented duplication of .biz will likely cause chaos and legal challenges if Neulevel ever starts accepting actual domain registrations.

New Domain Registrars Can't; ICANN Won't | 11 comments (8 topical, 3 editorial, 0 hidden)
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