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ICANN to Close Bidding for .org Registry

The Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) Wednesday will oversee the first step in the process to transfer management of the .org domain registry away from VeriSign , as hopefuls present their proposals for running the registry.

Tuesday is the deadline for bid proposals to run the top-level domain (TLD), which currently consists of 2.7 million domains. On Wednesday, ICANN will hold a roundtable to unveil the bidders. Each of the bidders (eight or nine are expected) will have five minutes to present their bids and why they best answer the future needs of .org.

Mountain View, Calif.-based VeriSign, the world's largest registrar and owner of the highly popular .com, .net and .org registries, agreed to give up control of the .org registry in April 2001 as part of a deal it brokered with ICANN to prevent a break-up into separate registrar and registry businesses. The U.S. Department of Commerce approved the deal in May 2001.

The .org TLD was initially intended as a special-purpose TLD for non-profit organizations, but that stricture has not been enforced. However, with analysts predicting yearly revenues from the .org registry at $10 million, reports suggest that the bidders for the TLD will include some organizations looking to derive profit from the registry. It has even been rumored VeriSign itself may organize a bid.

Unity Registry, a partnership between British firm Poptel, which manages the .coop domain, and AusRegistry, which manages the .au country-code top-level domain (ccTLD) for Australia is a confirmed bidder.

Another British firm which is planning a bid is Global Name Registry, which recently won the .name domain, a special-purpose TLD for individuals. According to reports, it will partner with the International Red Cross to make the bid.

Afilias Global Registry Services, manager of the .info domain, is also planning a bid, according to reports. It plans to team with the Internet Society.

Coming from the purely non-profit side are Carl Malamud and Paul Vixie. Malamud, founder of the non-profit Internet Multicasting Service (which created the first Internet radio station), is perhaps best known for getting the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to put its EDGAR database online. Vixie is considered the primary modern author and technical architect of BINDv8, helped form the Internet Software Consortium, and co-founded the Mail Abuse Prevention System (MAPS). The two said they would run .org as a non-profit, and would even put the database software for running the registry in the public domain.

ICANN is expected to award the .org registry in late August.