Domain name registries such as Neustar, VeriSign and Afilias will be able to become registrars under ICANN’s new top-level domains program, ICANN has confirmed.
In November, ICANN’s board voted to allow new TLD registries to also own registrars, so they will be able to sell domains in their TLD direct to registrants, changing a decade-long stance.
Late last week, in reply (pdf) to a request for clarification from Neustar policy veep Jeff Neuman, new gTLD program architect Kurt Pritz wrote:
if and when ICANN launches the new gTLD program, Neustar will be entitled to serve as both a registry and registrar for new gTLDs subject to any conditions that may be necessary and appropriate to address the particular circumstances of the existing .BIZ registry agreement, and subject to any limitations and restrictions set forth in the final Applicant Guidebook.
That doesn’t appear to say anything unexpected. ICANN had already made it pretty clear that the new vertical integration rules would be extended to incumbent gTLD registries in due course.
(However, you may like to note Pritz’s use of the words “if and when”, if you think that’s important.)
Neustar’s registry agreement currently forbids it not only from acting as a .biz registrar, but also from acquiring control of greater than 15% of any ICANN-accredited registrar (whether or not its sells .biz domains).
That part of the contract will presumably need to be changed before Neustar applies for official registrar accreditation or attempts to acquire a large stake in an existing registrar.
VeriSign and Afilias, the other two big incumbent gTLD registries, have similar clauses in their contracts.