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Skeptical Applicants Await ICANN TLD Report

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers Thursday said it would publish a detailed report outlining the recommendations about which of the 191 new top-level domain names registered by 44 potential registrars would be considered for the future of Internet real estate.

But not all of the possibly soon-to-be new applicants feel as though they are getting a fair shake. Chris Ambler, chief technology officer of registry Image Online Design Inc., which is gunning to have the suffix .web universally recognized, told InternetNews.com that he saw a preliminary staff report that caused him to be "justifiably concerned."

"They were critical of a number of aspects of our application," said Ambler, who claimed that his firm, which bills itself as "the .web Internet domain registry" has been using .web since 1996. Image Online has more than 20,000 .web domain name holders.

Ambler said that chief among ICANN's concerns seems to be that Image Online wants to charge $15 for a registry fee, while Afilias, also aiming to get .web recognized, is charging $6. Ambler thinks ICANN should not take a position on the pricing.

"Let's put it out there and let the fair market decide," Ambler said.

Ambler said ICANN did post a valid criticism when it expressed concern that Image Online would take six months to get .web up and running at full speed for clients. He stressed that his firm amended that promise by pledging to get it running in 30 to 60 days, but that ICANN was not assuaged.

"My main concern is that they are ignoring the history and the process as a whole," Ambler said.

He also said ICANN's annual meeting kicks off Sunday, giving the board what he feels is insufficient time to digest all of the requests and come to sound decisions.

But beyond ICANN's machinations, Ambler is also concerned with Afilias Group, a hydra-headed consortia of 19 registries that boasts Network Solutions Inc. as a member and holds 98 percent of the .com, net, and .org market share.

While most of the registrars are seeking to capitalize on one domain suffix, the Afilias consortia, Ambler said, is gunning for Image Online's bread-and-butter .web, in addition to .info and .site. Were ICANN to grant .web to Afilias, Image Online would suffer disastrous consequences.

Ambler isn't the only one voicing an opinion about Afilias' moves. In a letter to ICANN in support of Image Online, Net Atlantic President Andre P. Lutts said Afilias' proposal presented a conflict of interest because of Network Solutions involvement. One politician even got involved: California's 22nd District Congress member Lois Capps offered her endorsement of Image Online's plea.

Afilias did not return calls Thursday, but its application and justifications for filing it are featured on its site.

Opening comments from Afilias application state:

"Afilias strongly believes that ICANN should accept its proposal based upon its members' unmatched experience in the domain name registration industry; commitment to preserving the stability of the Internet; ability to present clear alternatives and innovation to the Internet community; and commitment to devote the financial resources necessary to establish a viable TLD registry. In addition, Afilias believes that its registry will demonstrate a proof of concept for the introduction of future TLD registries."

But while Ambler says he and Image Online are not necessarily on pins and needles until Sunday, he and his firm must be content in wondering if four years of respectable .web registry experience count for anything in the voting process.

As of now .com, net and .org are the global suffixes, but the argument for and against expanding this simple but expansive realm re



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