DomainCocoon’s Comments on the proposed renewal of the .COM Registry contract with VeriSign

Below you will find a copy of the renewal of the dot-com registry agreement with VeriSign as proposed by ICANN. You can also find our submission on the ICANN website.

The deadline for submitting comments is at 23:59 UTC today. The contract proposes an renewal of the agreement with VeriSign (as opposed to opening the contract to bidding) and will allow VeriSign to continue to increase prices by 7% for four out of six years.


DomainCocoon opposes the renewal of the current dot-com contract with VeriSign under the terms proposed by ICANN. We believe the contract should be open to both public scrutiny and bidding from interested parties.


In our daily work we interact with VeriSign as well as with many ICANN-accredited registrars and their interfaces. We always have valued the level of support VeriSign provides to its registrars and have been impressed with the stability of the services it offers.

That being said, we’re surprised to learn that ICANN proposes to re-assign the COM operational contract to VeriSign without further review of any potential competitive bids. This is especially astonishing when bearing in mind that intricate details of the current version of the contract are merely the result of a lawsuit settlement between ICANN and VeriSign. The settlement in question was forged without public input from community and stakeholders, and without much information given to the public at large. The main concern of the contract, though not the only one, is a provision which permits a price increase of 7% for four out of six years.

It seems unrealistic for this price increase to be necessary, let alone to open a venue for continued increases in the first place. Since the cost of technology bandwidth and other related factors have significantly come down over the years and will most likely continue to reduce, the provision mentioned is anti-intuitive to the idea of spreading technology and nurturing participation among Internet users.

Especially in light of the much lower registration prices for .NET names, for which VeriSign operates a similar Registry infrastructure, the cost on a per domain name basis should be lower for the .COM registry operation. This is mainly due to the higher volume involved in .COM. Consequently, the cost should decrease with the larger .COM transaction volume, not increase.

Thank you for your consideration.

Frank Michlick,
Consultant/Founder for DomainCocoon Inc.

DomainCocoon is a consultant to registrars, resellers and hosting companies. Amongst other services we currently help to manage three active ICANN accredited registrars that also offer registration services for COM/NET domains and others. Since our company also holds a portfolio of about 800 domain names, we also see ourselves on the commercial registrant side.

Why Registrars, Resellers&Domain Portfolio Managers should care about BTAPPA

The world of ICANN and the registries is full of cryptic acronyms – which luckily enough for us creates lots of space for consulting opportunities 😉 Now here is the latest one, BTAPPA, a new registry service by Verisign that was approved by the ICANN board on December 9th, 2009 and the necessary amendment was just signed two weeks ago. The original proposal was sent to ICANN in July 2009.

If you are a Registrar, Reseller or Domain Portfolio Manager, here’s why you should care about BTAPPA

Bulk Transfer after Partial Portfolio Acquisition” for the .COM, .NET and .NAME TLDs is a new service that allows the backend transfer (on the registry level) of a group of domains from one registrar to another. When you transfer a single domain from registrar to registrar, the transfer automatically goes hand in hand with a one year renewal of the name, which happens at the time of transfer completion. In order to allow one registrar to purchase another, the registry has for offered a bulk transfer service that transfers all of the domain names from one registrar to another for a fee usually starting in the range of $10,000, but without actually renewing the domain name.

Imagine a domain reseller who has their account at a specific registrar has decided to get an ICANN accreditation of their own. The reseller now has two choices to proceed in order to transfer their customer’s domains from the old registrar to their own accreditation:

  1. Try to convince the registrants to switch the names to the new registrar (for example by giving them an incentive, such a reduced renewal rate) and move as many names as quickly as possible. If you’re going with this option, you will have to put some additional work into the transfer system in order to make the transfer as seamless as possible.
  2. Transfer the names at the time of their renewal, instead of just renewing them at the old registrar.

While a mixture of both strategies usually works best, there are always some issues that will be encountered. Some registrants will not want to move their names, while others will wait too long to initiate the renewal of the name, so it will be too late to transfer.

With the introduction of this new proposed service, the registry will now be able to transfer partial groups of names over to a new registrar, making this transition a whole lot easier. Of course this also means a new source of potential revenue for Verisign, as the charges are supposed to be between $5,000 and $50,000. Just as this may work for resellers and partial acquisition of registrars, this may also be an option for entities that manage a large number of domain names in a reseller account, if the losing registrar plays along. Even for an owner of a large portfolio of domains it may make sense to take advantage of this service, should they decide to become ICANN accredited (which we recommend for 10,000+ domains or very valuable domains).

If the names transferred are not owned or managed by one entity, it is important to keep in mind that the existing Registrar-Registrant agreement permits this type of transaction.