The wholesale price of a .net domain is likely to top $15 by 2023, under a proposed renewal of its ICANN contract revealed today.
ICANN-imposed price caps are staying in the new Registry Agreement, but Verisign retains the right to increase its fees by 10% in each of the six years of the deal’s lifespan.
But domain investors do have at least one reason to be cheerful — while the contract adds many features of the standard new gTLD registry agreement, it does not include a commitment to implement the Uniform Rapid Suspension anti-cybersquatting procedure.
The current .net annual fee charged to registrars is $8.95 — $8.20 for Verisign, $0.75 for ICANN — but Verisign will continue to be allowed to increase its portion by up to 10% a year.
That means the cost of a .net could hit $15.27 wholesale (including the $0.75 ICANN fee) by the time the proposed contract expires in 2023.
Verisign has form when it comes to utilizing its price-raising powers. It exercised all six options under its current contract, raising its share of the fee from $4.65 in 2011.
On the bright side for volume .net holders, the prices increases continue to be predictable. ICANN has not removed the price caps.
Also likely to cheer up domainers is the fact that there are no new intellectual property protection mechanisms in the proposed contract.
Several post-2000 legacy gTLDs have agreed to incorporate the URS into their new contracts, leading to outrage from domainer organization the Internet Commerce Association.
ICA is worried that URS will one day wind up in .com without a proper ICANN community consensus, opening its members up to more risk of losing valuable domains.
The fact that URS is not being slipped into the .net contract makes it much less likely to be forced on .com too.
But Verisign has agreed to several mostly technical provisions that bring it more into line with the standard 2012-round new gTLD RA.
For example, it appears that daily .net zone files will become accessible via ICANN’s Centralized Zone Data Service before the end of the year.
Verisign has also agreed to standardize the format of its data escrow, Whois and monthly transaction reports.
The company has also agreed to start discussions about handing .net over to an emergency back-end operator in the event it files for bankruptcy.
The current contract is due to expire at the end of June and the proposed new deal would kick in July 1.
It’s now open for public comment until June 13.