Thoughts on the Domain Name Price Increases

I wanted to share some thoughts with all of you on a dark day in Internet history. On October 15th the price of a .com will increase by $0.42, marking the first price increase in the history of the modern Internet. Worse, this now signals a near-annual event that will take place in all major gTLDs. It is simply wrong. My full comments in the public forum in Puerto Rico in June are here.

While I do think Verisign has shown a lack of stewardship of this key public resource, I lay the primary blame for this on ICANN staff who put this forward and on ICANN board members who voted for this (it should be noted that the vote was 9-5. One of the closest in ICANN annals). As I said in Puerto Rico, shame on you. We all, all of us involved in the ICANN process in any way, owe the Internet public because of this.

It is important that we do not use this as a sign that ICANN, the idea, is failing. We should not confuse bad execution with bad strategy. The role of ICANN as an example of truly global, not International, governance is important. The role of ICANN in keeping the Internet free from government control and by that the predation of special interests is vital.

And it is a challenging environment. There is a debate inside the Registrar constituency right now, effectively re-fighting a battle that was already won, but sloppily implemented by staff. Many of you (the “you” here is our customers) will have already dealt with the end-user problems created by Go Daddy and Network Solutions in their “interpretation” of transfers policy in the name of “security”. For me this is simply deja vu.

Service providers, there is something you can do. Something important. There has been a process of GNSO reform going on inside of ICANN for the last 18 months. The GNSO is the primary policy-making body in the ICANN process. They are the ones charged with making policy for gTLDs. The board only has the power to ratify policy. Staff only has power to enforce and interpret policy.

Inside of the GNSO there has been something of a stalemate for the last few years. One of the chief reasons is that the Internet Service Providers Constituency (“ISPC”) has consistently sided with the Intellectual Property Constituency (“IPC”) on things like whois access and new gTLDs. I have been in and around the ISP industry now for 13 years and the ISPC does not look like any ISP assembly that I know.

I have been advocating change in the GNSO reform discussions. In Lisbon in March and again in Puerto Rico in June I have advocated a recasting of the ISPC. My position is that it should be a constituency for companies who stand between the “contracting parties” (ICANN-speak for Registrars) and end users. Most of the industry calls these people resellers (an old OpenSRS anachronism). They have no place or voice in the ICANN process right now and they need one. We have been trying to advocate their interests (your interests) for years. You can do a better job of it than we can.

When it comes to transfers, to whois and to most issues of DNS policy they (YOU!) are a voice that needs to be heard.

My advocating is the easy part of the battle. The harder part will be to actually have some of you folks do it. So take this as a plea to storm the ramparts! Now! In the next couple days we will post more about the ISPC, what can be done, and how to do it here. The time commitment is VERY small and the impact can be very large. Just ask George Kirikos what a little effort can accomplish in the ICANN process!

6 thoughts on “Thoughts on the Domain Name Price Increases

  1. Rich

    I cannot agree more. As resellers (contracting parties), we have constantly had our hands tied. We have been the ones who have been most heavily impacted by the mass mailing practices of other unnamed parties to coerce customers to transfer their domains away, compete with sites offering ultra low pricing, and fight with the misinformation spewed to our direct customers.

    And to raise prices by 4%? What is the sense in that? Are expenses going UP within ICANN? Do they just want to squeeze out more of the ‘little guys’?

    It hurts.. and it makes selling to customers that much more difficult.

  2. Daniel

    Can you point to a ISPC membership list and a IPC membership list.
    After reading you article, I have not been able to find the membership lists.

  3. scott

    I understand your frustration at this price increase, but is it really necessary to make our accounts with tucows so confusing to read?
    Those who want to keep track of the charges separately certainly can do so without adding so many columns to our monthly statements?

    and if you want to give us a before and after shot, please use the same accounts for both shots.

  4. James Koole

    Daniel,

    You can find out more about the IPC at their website. A list of IPC members can be found here.

    As for the ISPC, their website is here. I haven’t been able to find a list of members but we’ll keep looking. Thanks for the comment.

  5. Ken Kaprielian

    Elliot,

    Keep up the good work. I am sorry I have not been able to follow this more closely but my thoughts and feeling go with you as special interest groups work real hard to turn this whole system into nothing more than a cash raking process. That Verisign and stewardship can appear in the same sentence makes me sick.

  6. Barry L. Salter

    I’m not bothered by the rise in cost, I’m in business to make money as is GoDaddy, OpenSRS or anyone else who sells a product or service. I am disturbed by GoDaddy’s retail price under cutting the ____ out of OpenSRS wholesale prices BUT I have proven none the less that even with my paying wholesale a higher price than Godaddy’s retail, and my charging $20 a generic domain, I am NOT in competition with GoDaddy. OpenSRS provides for me (excluding that short hick up when it was hard to reach a tech) a solid foundation to which I can offer my clients a “MUCH MUCH HIGHER” level of customer support and reliance to which I can say is WORTH paying more for.

    I have not one domain with GoDaddy even if they are $3 a domain less and with the number of domains I have, would be a substantial difference in cost.. Further more, they are here in Phoenix, not 5 miles from me, and I still will not buy. I switch to OpenSRS after NSI messed up a customer’s domain and argued that it was set correctly (for 3 months!)(I have this domain, I have saved it), and I lost that client over it. At that point in time I registered OpenSRS and have stayed with, finding that with every issue, Frank, or any of the other guys, are always happy to help..

    (I do agree on the invoicing statements however, and the archived and deleted domain costs should all come up together so that it is more easily tracked.. listed separate if you must but on the same page). But an extra $100 in registration costs isn’t going to move me if $3 a domain doesn’t do it.

    One last note, in my opinion, NSI is like an old man who’s teeth are falling out and GoDaddy is like a balloon getting ready to burst. I believe as my opinion only, that NSI is slowly losing their grip as everyone including us are sucking up their losses, and when GoDaddy pops, I’ll bring a boat to pick up clients from drowning. My opinion only.

    Barry L. Salter
    Hosting Master Internet
    Hear (as in Listening) to Serve you! Tm
    +1.602.413.6197

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