Latest news of the domain name industry

Recent Posts

Sunrise accounts for under 1% of new gTLD regs

Kevin Murphy, September 16, 2015, Domain Registries

New gTLD registries can expect just 125 sunrise registrations on average, according to statistics just released by ICANN.

The new data, current as of May 2015, also shows that there have been just 44,077 sunrise registrations in total, over 417 new gTLDs.

That’s less than 1% of the total number of new gTLD domain registrations to that date.

The numbers were published in a revised version of ICANN’s Revised Report on Rights Protections Mechanisms, a discussion paper on mechanisms such as sunrise, Trademark Claims and URS.

It also contains the first authoritative breakdown of sunrise regs by TLD, though it’s limited to the 20 largest.


Many of these numbers match closely what DI has previously reported, but .porn and .adult are substantially lower because ICM Registry only revealed consolidated numbers that took account of its unique non-TMCH sunrise periods.

None of the ICANN figures include .sucks, which hit sunrise after the numbers were compiled in May.

ICANN throws lifeline to flopping new gTLDs

Kevin Murphy, September 16, 2015, Domain Registries

New gTLD registries with lower than expected sales will now be able to reduce the amount of their “failure bond”.

ICANN has introduced a new Continued Operations Instrument Amendment Service, which will enable registries to raise or lower the amount of their COI depending on how business is going.

A COI is a letter of credit or cash in escrow that registries must secure in order to fund three years of emergency operations in the event that their businesses fail.

The amount of the COI is calculated from sales projection and ranges from $18,000 (for under 10,000 names) to $300,000 (over 250,000 names).

Let’s face it, at the moment the amendment service must surely be targeted largely at companies that over-estimated their future sales and secured a COI much larger than they needed.

If they’ve escrowed cash, the new service will allow some of that money to be freed up to spend on more useful activities.

ICANN said that if it determines that a registry has under-projected its sales, it will be able to refer it to the new service in order for the COI to be increased.

Currently, only four new gTLDs have over 250,000 names under management, judging by zone files.

Retail sales see CentralNic over double revenue

Kevin Murphy, September 16, 2015, Domain Registries

CentralNic saw a huge 171% increase in revenue and a tripling of billings in the first half of the year, based on its newly acquired retail business and the sale of premium names.

For the six months to the end of June, the London-based firm saw revenue of £4.4 million ($6.8 million) compared to £1.6 million ($2.5 million) a year earlier.

It moved into profit during the period, netting £287,000 ($442,000) after tax compared to a loss of £599,000 in the 2014 period.

CentralNic broke down its numbers into segments, showing that its new business areas were responsible for most of the growth, while the core registry business was relatively slow.

Registry was up 13% to £1.6 million ($2.5 million).

The new registrar business, which is lead by its $7.5 million acquisition, leaped from £180,000 to £1.8 million (£2.8 million), while its premium name sales business was £1.1 million compared to a negligible £50,000 a year earlier.

The company noted in a statement that Google was the first “megabrand” to use a .xyz domain name and expressed optimism that this may increase awareness of new gTLDs in future.

CentralNic is the second-largest new gTLD back-end, as measured by registration volume, largely due to its .xyz contract.

It also acts as back-end for .online, which left the blocks very quickly earlier this month, racking up over 57,000 names so far.

Neustar shoots the corpse of

Kevin Murphy, September 10, 2015, Domain Registries

The ill-conceived, barely used domain is to stay dead, Neustar confirmed last night.

The .us registry operator said that its Stakeholder Council met August 17 and:

carefully considered the report on the domain and unanimously recommended that the requirement be suspended for the life of the .us contract.

Neustar had been forced into making a call about reintroducing by its current .us contract, which it signed in March 2014.

One October 2014 expert report and May 2015 comment period later, and the decision has been made to keep the idea suspended. was introduced via US legislation as a way to make politicians look like they were doing something create a friendly space for the under 13s.

But the zone wound up with reg numbers that make new gTLDs look popular, so the decision was made in 2012 to kill it off.

Neustar’s .us contract lasts another two to four years, and that’s how long the suspension will last, at least.

XYZ fighting red tape to serve Chinese customers

Kevin Murphy, September 8, 2015, Domain Registries is trying to become one of the first non-Chinese gTLD registries to be able to sell unhindered into the Chinese market, in the face of Draconian government regulations.

The company has filed a Registry Services Evaluation Process request with ICANN — the first of its kind — that would let it use a gateway service, based in China, to comply with strict local laws on registries, registrars and registrants.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology regulations have been in place for a decade, but it’s only in the last year or so, in light of the new gTLD program, that China has been strictly enforcing them.

Anyone in China can buy a domain, but you need a license if you want to put up a web site, according to Gavin Brown, CTO of .xyz back-end CentralNic. Registrants also need to have their Whois information verified and validated, he said.

The problem for Chinese residents today is if they buy a domain in a TLD that is not licensed by the government, they won’t be able to obtain a license to host a web site on that domain.

The .xyz gTLD is believed to have a few hundred thousand domains registered via Chinese registrars, a substantial portion of its total.

There’s a worry that China could demand the deletion of these names and others, as it has previously in .cn, if the proper licenses have not been obtained.

Naturally, the inability to use these domains has led to a lot of pissed-off registrants. XYZ says has been receiving complaints from its registrars in the country, which in turn have been receiving complaints from their customers.

XYZ proposes to fix the problem by using a gateway service provided by ZDNS, a DNS provider based in mainland China.

Registrars in the country would maintain a separate EPP connection to ZDNS, which would act as a proxy to CentralNic’s UK-based primary EPP system.

ZDNS, which is prominently promoting its gateway service on its web site, would handle the Whois verification and also proxy the .xyz Whois lookup service, but only as it pertains to Chinese registrants and queries originating in China.

Data on non-Chinese registrants would continue to be housed with CentralNic.

ZDNS would also prevent Chinese registrants registering domains containing strings that have been banned by the government.

XYZ’s RSEP request (pdf) is currently undergoing its technical/competition review with ICANN. Assuming it passes, it would be exposed to public comment before being approved.

The RSEP states: “we are confident that the entire Internet user base of China would endorse this service and that Chinese registrars would strongly endorse this service.”

It’s the first such request to ICANN, suggesting that an awful lot of gTLDs are still not compliant with the Chinese regulations.

As of April, only 14 TLDs — all managed by China-based companies — were licensed to operate in China.