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Verisign to get .com for six more years, but prices to stay frozen

Kevin Murphy, July 1, 2016, 09:21:56 (UTC), Domain Registries

ICANN and Verisign have agreed to extend their .com registry contract for another six years, but there are no big changes in store for .com owners.

Verisign will now get to run the gTLD until November 30, 2024.

The contract was not due to expire until 2018, but the two parties have agreed to renew it now in order to synchronize it with Verisign’s new contract to run the root zone.

Separately, ICANN and Verisign have signed a Root Zone Maintainer Agreement, which gives Verisign the responsibility to make updates to the DNS root zone when told to do so by ICANN’s IANA department.

That’s part of the IANA transition process, which will (assuming it isn’t scuppered by US Republicans) see the US government’s role in root zone maintenance disappear later this year.

Cunningly, Verisign’s operation of the root zone is technically intermingled with its .com infrastructure, using many of the same security and redundancy features, which makes the two difficult to untangle.

There are no other substantial changes to the .com agreement.

Verisign has not agreed to take on any of the rules that applies to new gTLDs, for example.

It also means wholesale .com prices will be frozen at $7.85 for the foreseeable future.

The deal only gives Verisign the right to raise prices if it can come up with a plausible security/stability reason, which for one of the most profitable tech companies in the world seems highly unlikely.

Pricing is also regulated by Verisign’s side deal (pdf) with the US Department of Commerce, which requires government approval for any price increases until such time as .com no longer has dominant “market power”.

The .com extension is now open for public comment.

Predictably, it’s already attracted a couple of comments saying that the contract should instead be put out to tender, so a rival registry can run the show for cheaper.

That’s never, ever, ever, ever going to happen.

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Comments (8)

  1. YamadaMedia says:

    Why will it never be put up for bidding?

  2. Andrew says:

    Kevin, I’m not sure about the price being frozen for the term. On the Q1 Verisign conference call, Bidzos said there are two contracts/negotiations that take place. One is to extend the contract to run .com, and the other is the cooperative agreement with Dept. Commerce. The one they just agreed to extends the former, but they still need to negotiate the latter with Commerce before the original 2018 expiration.

    In other words, they have yet to negotiate and extension on this:

    https://www.ntia.doc.gov/files/ntia/publications/amendment_32_11292012.pdf

  3. Andrew says:

    I must have skimmed over that one paragraph. But I think your title is a bit misleading and this line is incorrect:

    “It also means wholesale .com prices will be frozen at $7.85 for the foreseeable future.”

    There will be a contract negotiation within the next two years to determine what prices are going forward. It might mean the prices are still fixed at $7.85, but the six year extension published today has no affect on the prices beginning in 2018.

  4. Andrew says:

    That’s correct. There will be an amendment to the Cooperative Agreement by 2018 setting our prices for the following six years. Hopefully it will stay the same.

    My point is that the agreement just published by ICANN has nothing to do with pricing for the extension, and there will be a separate agreement for that.

  5. kd says:

    I’m curious why you say “That’s never, ever, ever, ever going to happen” when it comes to putting the contract out to tender. Why do you think / believe this so strongly?

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