RealTime IT News

The .Net Race Is On

Officials at the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) expect to announce early next week the name of the third-party evaluators who will decide which registry is best suited to assume management of the .net domain extension.

Kieran Baker, an ICANN spokesman, said the announcement could be made as early as Monday, setting into motion the organization's timetable to end evaluations by March 9.

Officials at the organization have spent the past couple of weeks going over the applications sent by five bidders to make sure there were no conflict-of-interest issues between those five and the would-be evaluators.

ICANN plans to announce the new .net registry at its board meeting in March. Its registry agreement with the current registry, VeriSign , ends June 30.

With the bids now out in public, five registries have the task of showing the independent review board -- through their applications -- that they should be entrusted with managing the third-largest domain extension on the Internet. To the four losers will go a $150,000 refund for their $200,000 application fee; the winner will take control of one of the most visible and important domain extensions.

As previously reported, VeriSign, Germany-based Denic and Afilias, registry operator for .info, submitted their bids to ICANN.

Two others are also joining the race: Sentan Registry Services, a joint venture between NeuLevel and the Japan Registry Services Co.; and CORE++, a company formed by the National Internet Development Agency of Korea (NIDA), CORE Internet Council of Registrars, Telefonica -- the registry operator for .br -- and the Internet Systems Consortium (ICS).

All five are now engaged in a game of wait and see, forbidden from making any contact with the evaluators unless it's in a written response to a question brought forth by the evaluators. They must also avoid communications with anyone at ICANN unless it has deal to with running their existing registry/registrar business.

"Pretty much, it's in the hands of the ICANN folks," said Richard Tindal, NeuLevel vice president of registry services. "They have a pretty well-laid out process of how this is going to be evaluated over the next six to eight weeks. So really, the work's been done, the proposals in and we're looking to let ICANN do their job now and do an evaluation."

Also considered in the overall bidding process is the online public comments section on ICANN's Web site, which went live Jan. 20.

Officials said the comments made to the board will be a factor in its final choice for a new .net registry. To date, the comments have been sparse, with some objections to VeriSign's handling of the domain extension and support for Denic, which is the registry operator for .de, the country code top-level domain (ccTLD) for Germany and the second-largest domain extension behind .com.