The third .nxt conference on new generic top-level domains opened for early bird registrations today.
Having appeared twice in San Francisco, this time it’s my home town of London’s turn to host the event.
Organizer Kieren McCarthy is hoping to attract an international audience passing through London on their way to the ICANN 44 public meeting in Prague, Czech Republic.
The conference will be held at the Park Plaza Victoria in central London on June 20 to 22, ending just before the first day of meetings in Prague.
The three-track agenda can be found here.
I attended the first two .nxts in person and remotely and I’ve found that McCarthy is pretty good at lining up an excellent range of compelling speakers and panelists.
The main drawback some have found is that many of the attendees are likely to be the same faces you’ll see at ICANN meetings.
However, with this being the first .nxt to happen after April 12 – when hundreds of new companies have filed their applications and committed to enter the domain name industry – there very well might be a broader range of delegates at the London show.
Early bird pricing, available before April 12, starts at £399 ($632) plus 20% tax for the full three days. It then goes up to £599 ($949) plus tax. Day passes are also available.
You can take advantage of the discounted pricing by registering here.
The timing of the publication of the renegotiated .com registry contract may give Verisign and ICANN the chance to duck some criticism about its price-raising powers.
Verisign is expected to have secured a large share of the burgeoning market for new gTLD back-end registry services.
It is whispered that a great many North American brands planning to apply for their own dot-brand gTLDs prefer Verisign as their registry provider, due to its reputation for stability.
That up-time is of course provided by a robust, distributed infrastructure paid for over the years by the same .com registrants now facing four more years of price increases.
It’s debatable whether Verisign can continue to make a convincing public interest case for .com price hikes if it’s also profiting by hosting dot-brands on the same boxes and pipes.
But because the public comment period closes April 26 and ICANN does not plan to publish the new gTLD applications until May 2, the argument that Verisign is using .com buyers to subsidize its dot-brand business will have to be made without hard data to back it up.
I doubt such arguments would be heard anyway, frankly. ICANN pretty much has its hands bound by the 2006 contract when it comes to messing around with pricing controls.
For those opposed to price increases, a more effective lobbying strategy might head straight to Washington DC, where the Departments of Commerce and Justice will both study the deal from September.
ICANN and Verisign both stand to make oodles of cash from their renewed .com registry contract.
A proposed draft of the next .com Registry Agreement was published by ICANN late this evening.
It would enable Verisign to carry on raising its .com registry fee by 7%, in four of the next six years. This provision, which was in the 2006 agreement also, was not unexpected.
But the deal will also see Verisign pay ICANN millions of dollars more in transaction fees.
Instead of a quarterly lump sum, which is capped at $4.5 million in the current contract, ICANN will instead get a $0.25 fee for every year of a .com registered, renewed or transferred.
According to my quick-and-dirty calculations, that would have brought ICANN approximately $6 million in extra revenue — roughly $24 million in total — from .com domains last year.
(The most recent .com registry reports show billable transactions per month worth about $2 million to ICANN, using the new agreement’s calculation. However, under the current agreement ICANN can only collect $18 million per year, according to its last approved budget.)
The revised contract contains several other changes also. I’ll have more coverage of those tomorrow.
The deal, which is not expected to come into effect until the end of November, is now open for public comment until April 26.
It needs to be approved by the ICANN board of directors, the Verisign board and the US Department of Commerce before it is finally signed.
Remember that last-minute rush I was telling you about?
ICANN has revealed that it now has 556 registered users in its Top-Level Domain Application System, up from 290 just a week ago.
Each TAS account can be used to apply for 49 new gTLDs (not 50 as previously reported), so we’re looking at anywhere from 0 to 27,244 new gTLD applications.
Based on what I’ve heard from consultants, I estimate that the true number of applications represented by these 556 accounts could be over 1,000.
Companies applying for dot-brand gTLDs are in many cases also applying for a couple of keyword gTLDs related to their vertical industry too, I hear.
Fairwinds Partners, which has been mostly working with skeptical brands, said this week that its clients on average are applying for 2.7s gTLD each.
Applied across all the TAS accounts registered to date, that would mean 1,501 applications.
The deadline for new TAS registrations is this Thursday, March 29, at 2359 UTC. That’s 1659 in ICANN’s native California and 1959 on America’s east coast.
Remember that while the UK switches from GMT (which is the same as UTC) to BST tomorrow morning, UTC does not observe daylight savings and remains the same.
Minds + Machines parent Top Level Domain Holdings has become the third company to publicly confirm an application for the .music top-level domain.
TLDH has partnered with “music industry figures including artists, managers, music producers and lawyers” going by the name of LHL TLD Investment Partners on a joint-venture bid.
M+M will provide the technical back-end for the applicant.
The other two known applicants for .music are Far Further, which has the backing of most major music trade groups, and the long-running MyTLD/Music.us/Roussos Group campaign.
Assuming Roussos and TLDH can each pull one plausible public comment objection out of the bag, Far Further’s Community Priority Evaluation is probably scuppered.
With two objections, a CPE candidate needs a perfect 14/14 score on the remaining criteria, which is likely going to be pretty difficult when you’re applying for such a generic term.
In other new gTLD applicant news…
.miami — TLDH also announced today that it plans to apply for .miami, having secured the support of City of Miami in a 4-0 vote of its commissioners.
.nyc – The city of New York has reportedly granted its consent to Neustar to apply for .nyc, apparently beating out other wannabe applicants including TLDH.
.vlaanderen – The Flemish government has awarded the right to apply for .vlaanderen (.flanders) to DNS.be. The registry will reportedly work with Nic.at on the application.
.nagoya – GMO Registry has announced a bid for the Japanese city gTLD .nagoya, with the backing of the local government. Nagoya is Japan’s third-largest city.