Public Interest Registry is sticking with Afilias to run the .org registry back-end.
The announcement came yesterday after a open procurement process that lasted for most of 2016.
Over 20 back-end providers from 15 nations — basically the entire industry — responded to PIR’s February request for proposals, we reported back in March.
Afilias retaining the contract is not a huge surprise. The bidding process was widely believed to be a way for non-profit PIR to reduce its costs, believed to be among the highest in the industry.
PIR said yesterday:
Afilias was selected as the best value solution based on the objective criteria and requirements set forth in Public Interest Registry’s procurement process. It is anticipated that Afilias will commence operations under the new contractual agreement on Jan. 1, 2018.
It’s very likely that the new deal will be worth a lot less to Afilias than the current arrangement, which costs PIR about $33 million per year.
In 2013, the last year for which we have Afilias’ financials, .org brought in $31 million of its $77 million revenue.
It’s believed that PIR is currently paying about $3 per domain per year, but Kieren McCarthy at The Register, citing unnamed industry sources, reckons that’s now been bumped down to $2, saving PIR about $10 million per year.
The .org gTLD has about 11.2 million domains under management, but its numbers have been slipping for several months, according to registry reports.
Nominet chief Russell Haworth is hopeful that its new outsourcing deal with Minds + Machines will help it win a much more lucrative back-end contract — .org.
The company is among the 20-plus companies that have responded to Public Interest Registry’s request for proposals, as its back-end deal with Afilias comes to an end.
Nominet is one of a handful of companies — which would also include Verisign, Afilias, CNNIC and DENIC — that currently handles zones the size or larger than .org, which at over 10 million names is about the same size as .uk.
It, like PIR, is also a not-for-profit entity that donates excess funds to good causes, which could count in its favor.
But Haworth told DI today that showing the ability to handle a complex TLD migration may help its bid.
“I personally think that it would stand us in good stead, but we’ll have to see how the process plays out,” he told DI today. “With .org there’s 19-odd players pitching for that, so it’s a fairly competitive field.”
If the migration were to happen today, we’d be looking at around 300,000 domains changing hands. It’s likely to be a somewhat larger number by the time it actually happens.
Collectively, it will be one of the largest back-end transitions to date, though the largest individual affected gTLD, .work, currently has fewer than 100,000 names in its zone.
Haworth said that the plan is to migrate M+M’s portfolio over to Nominet’s systems one at a time.
He was hesitant to characterize the migration process as “easy”, but said Nominet already has such systems in place due to its role as one of ICANN’s Emergency Back-End Registry Operators.
Earlier this year, Nominet temporarily took over defunct dot-brand .doosan, in order to test the EBERO process.
A back-end migration primarily covers DNS resolution and EPP systems.
It sounds like the EPP portion may be the more complex. Some of M+M’s gTLDs have restrictions and tiered pricing that may require EPP extensions Nominet does not currently use in its TLDs.
But the DNS piece may hold the most risk — if something breaks, registrants names stop resolving and web sites go dark.
Haworth said Nominet is also talking to other new gTLD registries about taking over back-end operations. Registries signed three, five or seven-year contracts with their RSPs when the 2012 application round opened, and some are coming up for renewal soon, he said.
Nominet says it will become a top ten back-end after the M+M migration is done.
More than 20 companies want to take over the back-end registry for the .org gTLD, according to Public Interest Registry.
PIR put the contract, currently held by Afilias, up for bidding with a formal Request For Information in February.
It’s believed to be worth north of $33 million to Afilias per year.
PIR told DI today that it “received more than 20 responses to its RFI for back-end providers from organisations representing 15 countries.”
That represents a substantial chunk of the back-end market, but there are only a handful of registry service providers currently handling zones as big as .org.
.org has about 11 million names under management. Only .com, .net and a few ccTLDs (Germany, China and the UK spring to mind) have zones the same size or larger.
PIR said it would not be making any specific details about the bidders available.
The non-profit says it plans to award the contract by the end of the year.
The internet has its first IDN versions of legacy gTLDs.
Public Interest Registry had three new gTLDs delegated over the weekend, all non-Latin versions of its flagship .org.
The gTLDs were .संगठन, which means “organization” in Hindi, and the Chinese .机构 and .组织机构, which seem to be two ways of saying “organization” too.
They’re not strictly speaking transliterations, as they represent whole dictionary words conceptually related to .org, rather than trying to approximate the spoken sound of “org”.
The .com equivalents Verisign has applied for in other scripts are actually meant to sound the same as “com” without actually meaning “commercial” or “company” in their language.
Because PIR has taken a different approach, there’s no grandfathering for existing .org registrants.
These three new gTLDs will be unrestricted, according to PIR’s applications, but will have slightly stricter rules on abuse — no porn will be allowed, for example.
Public Interest Registry is dropping the .org from its primary branding in preparation for the launch of its new gTLDs.
CEO Brian Cute said that branding the registry around .org “made a lot of sense when we were a single product company”, but that the time has come to put the PIR name front and center.
The new logo incorporates “Your”, as a result of focus groups, testing and because Cute says “really reflects to us our commitment to the communities we serve”.
PIR has applied to ICANN for .ngo, for Non-Governmental Organization, along with Latin equivalent .ong and four transliterations of .org in Cyrillic, Hindi and Chinese.
Cute told DI that the plan for .ngo and .ong is to have a space in which, unlike .org, the identities of the registrants have been validated.
There’s going to be a searchable directory, a portal, and a “Facebook-like” service for registrants, he said.
“We’re going to have profile pages, so if a registrant doesn’t want to stand up a full website, there’ll be a Facebook-like profile they can populate,” he said.
It sounds like PIR is thinking about a template-driven approach to getting content on .ngo domains, somewhat similar to how .tel works (though it won’t be mandatory in .ngo) or Employ Media’s .Jobs Universe.
But Cute said neither of those concepts inspired PIR, which is building its profile service from scratch.
It’s an interesting way to market a TLD, and I’m positive that PIR won’t be the only new gTLD applicant to do something along these lines.