February 11, 2007

The ICANN House Organ Asks - and I Answer

ICANN has instituted a house blog - a house organ - sort of like Pravda during the era of the Soviet Union.

So ICANN is asking "What does it take to run a TLD registry?"

That's a disingenuous question.

Is it asking "What does it take to run a TLD registry?" under ICANN's amazingly complex and intrusive system of business and price regulation?

Or is it asking "What does it take to run a TLD registry?" in a marketplace that is free of intrusive regulations established, via ICANN, by incumbent competetors and outside interests who do not want innovation or expansion of the internet's domain name system?

It turns out that to run a TLD registry under the latter conditions is pretty easy.  It is relatively easy to establish, or hire, a worldwide array of name servers.  And it is not that hard to build a registration system that serves the expected customer base.

What is hard is being forced to build out an array of servers and registration infrastructure that has to serve a customer base the size of .com under the business rules established by ICANN.

Take for example my own TLD, .ewe.  I anticipate that it will provide domain name services for far less money than is possible under ICANN's rules.  And it will offer a broader range of services.

But I can not go into business with .ewe, at least not realistically.  That's because ICANN holds the keys to the only viable marketplace.  And unless I abandon my business plan and do it the way that ICANN demands I have no chance of getting ICANN's approval.  It would be a waste of money even to apply and ask.

So in answer to the question from ICANN's house organ - "What does it take to run a TLD registry?"  The answer is obvious: ICANN should step aside, let innovators innovate - a few will succeed, some will fail - and we will find out what it takes to run a TLD registry.

Posted by karl at February 11, 2007 4:46 PM