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Neustar set to lose contract that provides HALF its revenue

Neustar has been devastated by the news that it is likely to lose a US government contract that provides almost half of its annual revenue.

The US Federal Communications Commission yesterday recommended that Telcordia Technologies take over the Local Number Portability Administrator contract, which Neustar has held since 1997.

The service is basically North America’s centralized phone number registry. It’s not directly related to its domain name businesses.

In 2014, the deal was worth $474.8 million to Neustar, or 49% of its annual revenue.

On the news, the company’s share price fell off a cliff, losing almost 20% of its value before recovering slightly to end the day almost 12% down.

Neustar expressed dismay and anger in a press release, saying the FCC was putting the security of the US phone system at risk:

Although apparently the LNPA is used to port numbers, it is also critical for technology migrations, mergers and acquisitions, disaster recovery, accurate 911 location, and is the only authoritative database for the proper call completion of 11 billion voice calls and text messages each day. The recommendation misunderstands the operating system and would harm public safety, law enforcement, fundamentally burden small carriers, and disrupt service for 12 million consumers — all in pursuit of theoretical savings for a few carriers, which Neustar believes will be dwarfed by the costs and risks of transition.

Switching to Telcordia is currently only a recommendation that FCC commissioners must approve, and Neustar said it will “review all of its options”.

The LNPA deal is due to expire June 30 this year.

Neustar’s domain business — or “security services” as the company calls it — comprises DNS resolution, the registries for .us, .biz and .co, and the back-end registry for many new gTLDs. It brought in revenue of $140.3 million in 2014.

According to Reuters, Neustar is currently talking to advisers about the potential sale of the company, which is currently listed on the New York Stock Exchange, to private equity.

The potential buyers are reportedly waiting for the award of the number portability contract before sealing the deal.

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Live gTLD .reise sold at auction

Kevin Murphy, March 3, 2015, Domain Sales

The first auction of a live new gTLD resulted in a sale, I can reveal.

Dotreise’s .reise, which is German for “.travel”, changed hands in an auction managed by Applicant Auction last Friday.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to identify the winning bidder or the winning bid, but the winner’s identity will inevitably be revealed sooner or later.

Applicant Auction had said there was to be a $400,000 starting bid on the gTLD.

.reise has been general availability since August but has only about 1,300 names in its zone file. It retails for up to $180 a year.

If the TLD’s new owner is not Donuts, the company will find itself competing with Donuts’ much cheaper and more popular .reisen.

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Tucows and Namecheap exit $14m .online deal

Tucows and Namecheap have both pulled out of their joint venture with Radix to run the .online registry.

Tucows revealed the move, which will see Radix run .online solo, in a press release yesterday.

Both Tucows and Namecheap are registrars, whereas Radix is pretty much focused on being a registry nowadays.

While financial terms have not been disclosed, Tucows CEO Elliot Noss had previously said that each of the three companies had funded the new venture to the tune of $4 million to $5 million.

I estimate that this puts the total investment in the deal — which includes the price of winning .online at auction — at $13 million to $14 million.

Noss has also hinted that the gTLD sold for much more than the $6.8 million paid for .tech.

.online has not yet been delegated.

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More security issues prang ICANN site

Kevin Murphy, March 3, 2015, Domain Tech

ICANN has revealed details of a security problem on its web site that could have allowed new gTLD registries to view data belonging to their competitors.

The bug affected its Global Domains Division customer relationship management portal, which registries use to communicate with ICANN on issues related to delegation and launch.

ICANN took GDD down for three days, from when it was reported February 27 until last night, while it closed the hole.

The vulnerability would have enabled authenticated users to see information from other users’ accounts.

ICANN tells me the issue was caused because it had misconfigured some third-party software — I’m guessing the Salesforce.com platform upon which GDD runs.

A spokesperson said that the bug was reported by a user.

No third parties would have been able to exploit it, but ICANN has been coy about whether any it believes any registries used the bug to access their competitors’ accounts.

ICANN has ‘fessed up to about half a dozen crippling security problems in its systems since the launch of the new gTLD program.

Just in the last year, several systems have seen downtime due to vulnerabilities or attacks.

A similar kind of privilege escalation bug took down the Centralized Zone Data Service last April.

The RADAR service for registrars was offline for two weeks after being hacked last May.

A phishing attack against ICANN staff in December enabled hackers to view information not normally available to the public.

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Domain Incite is five years old today

Kevin Murphy, February 27, 2015, Gossip

Five years ago Domain Incite published its first story, with the introductory line “Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?”

I went on to describe how I’d registered the name domainincite.com and thrown up a live, resolving web site in less than one hour.

But that wasn’t quite the beginning.

What I neglected to mention were the eight hours I spent sitting with my father that weekend, brainstorming domains that captured the slightly acerbic tone I expected to use and which were also available at a reasonable price.

That was also when we came up with the tag line “domainincite.com n. because all the good domains were taken”, which has sat at the top of DI’s “About” page since day one.

Dad died last October, and I’d be lying if I said I’ve had an easy time getting over it.

Watching somebody you love dying of cancer is, needless to say, traumatic. Many readers will understand this all too well.

It can leave you with their final weeks indelibly at the forefront of your memories, whereas you should be remembering the enjoyable times you spent together.

I wouldn’t dream of blaming Dad for my eventual choice of domain, but we had fun collaborating on its conception.

That was something we did together, which gives DI’s birthday this year a bittersweet flavor for me.

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