RealTime IT News

ICANN Delays Naming .org Successor

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) published a revised schedule for the migration of .org to its new owner Thursday evening, a delay that poses problems with the registry's current and succeeding operators.

According to one of the bidders vying for ownership of the popular domain extension, a lengthy delay in the process could spell the end for many of the 11 bidders seeking ownership on Jan. 1, 2003.

ICANN's review committee missed a self-imposed deadline when it failed to publish an initial report Monday to the general public on the merits of the 11 competing .org bidders and whom it was considering as VeriSign's successor to the .org registry business.

Instead, the report won't be published until Aug. 19, pushing back the date of a final decision by the ICANN board of directors to late September.

According to Mary Hewitt, ICANN spokesperson, the many ICANN members required to review the 11 applications are causing the delay.

"There's a lot of people who need to see it, and a lot to read through," she said. "It's taken longer than we anticipated."

It seems everyone on the ICANN payroll, and even some volunteers, are part of the process. There are four separate teams looking at three different sets of criteria for each applicant. Ostensibly, the ICANN staff is conducting a general overview and integrating the other team's reports into one complete whole.

According to Jonathan Wales, president of bidding .org company Register ORGanization, Inc., any more delay puts a majority of the bidders out of contention for the domain extension.

The time crunch comes from the contract signed between ICANN and VeriSign, which ends Dec. 31. On Jan. 1, 2003, a new registry operator needs to be in place; if ICANN's replacement doesn't have enough time to put its operation in place, it could give VeriSign grounds to renegotiate its existing deal.

It also opens the door for VeriSign to renegotiate on its pledge to provide $5 million to the winning registry to help pay for the migration. Though the money isn't given as a lump sum on day one, many of the bidders are depending on the deferred payments to get the business running.

Though Wales isn't worried about his company, which has more than enough funds to pay for the .org migration, a majority of the other bidders don't have the money to get off the ground.

"Many applicants will have problems, because they really need the time to work out how they are going to run with (their business plan) and a majority need the $5 million endowment from VeriSign," he said. "Without that $5 million, they don't have the funding to even start the process."

VeriSign officials had no comment on the "hypothetical" situation of renegotiating on its .org contract by press time.

ICANN has been reviewing .org proposals for the past couple months. The original deadline for applications ended June 18, with applicants making presentations at ICANN's Bucharest meeting June 26. The applicants had 15 minutes to prove to officials they met the criteria for:

  • Preserving a stable, well-functioning .org registry and a game plan for migrating more than 2.7 million domain owners.
  • the ability to comply with ICANN policies.
  • enhancing registrar competition.
  • meeting and promoting the needs of the established, non-commercial interests of the Internet community (in recent years, .org has become the de facto extension for non-profit organizations and associations).
  • matching or improving the current level of .org services.