[ga] WLS reply
Just a few short hours or a few hours late, still we have not reacted in
full to the VGRS proposal which we should.
Don prepared this document and I had some input to, based upon all prior
discussion, without to much objections we propose to send this document
of asap (say tonight) to VGRS.
let us know.
This document represents the final feedback from the DNSO General
Assembly (GA) to VeriSign Global Registry Services (VGRS), with
respect to the VGRS proposed Domain Name Wait Listing Service (WLS).
More specifically, this document is responsive to, and consistent with
the Procedural Guidelines contained in, VGRS's revised WLS proposal,
dated January 28, 2002.
On December 30, 2001, VGRS submitted to the Registrar Constituency its
WLS proposal (http://www.icann-registrars.org/pdfs/VeriSign_wls.pdf).
On January 18, 2002, the Registrar Constituency submitted its timely
response to the VGRS proposal
On January 28, 2002, VGRS posted to the GA list, its revised WLS
proposal along with the "Justification for a Registry-based Wait
Listing Service" document
(http://www.dnso.org/clubpublic/ga/Arc09/msg00773.html). This proposal
requests questions from the GA by February 8, 2001 and final feedback
from the GA by March 1, 2002, pursuant to the "procedural guidelines"
presented in it.
On February 9, 2002, the DNSO General Assembly submitted questions to
VGRS regarding the WLS
On February 14, 2002, ICANN posted its "Discussion Paper: Redemption
Grace Periods for Deleted Names"
invited comments and questions. ICANN's document, will hereinafter be
referred to as "ICANN Redemption Grace," for the purpose of brevity.
On February 15, 2002, VGRS posted their responses "VeriSign GRS
Responses to Domain Name Wait Listing Service Questions"
(http://verisign-grs.com/wls_responses.pdf). VGRS's document, will
hereinafter be referred to as "VGRS Responses," for the purpose of
Additional background information is available at
In considering the WLS proposal, various members of the GA made the
1. Nothing in any of the various contracts specifically grants the
Registry or any Registrar the right to sell an option (or future) to
acquire a domain name, when that domain name is not available to the
VGRS states that it is free to offer the WLS service under its
existing contract with ICANN, (see VGRS Responses at B.7. and
B.9.), although VGRS admits that to do so is subject to
ICANN's approval, (see VGRS Response at B.20.).
A current domain name registration may be sold by its current
Registrant to another person or entity. The Registrant enjoys
extended, post-expiration renewal rights (the length of which
is currently at the discretion of the Registrar - See
until the name is deleted and made available to the general
The Registry and Registrars only have the expressed,
contractual authority to register a name to the general public
on a first come and first served basis. There is no expressed
contractual authority to sell a future right to register a
domain name, at the time when that domain name "may" expire
and be deleted in the future. The spirit and intent of the
contracts appears to assume that domain names will expire and
be deleted and that those expired and deleted names will then,
and only then, be available to the general public for
Additional services can be, and have been, "invented" by the
Registrars as part of their marketing strategies, but no
Registrar has been, or should be given, any unique rights with
respect to domain name registration or after-market services.
The same should apply to the Registry, as well.
In addition to that it can be stipulated that the next step for
the registry could be to "pre-register" all possible domains
in accordance with a WLS to get a better profit margin and hence
raise prices more then considerable.
2. There is no explicit policy and procedure for the handling of
expired registrations, as referenced in 3.7.5 and 3.7.11 of the
Accreditation Agreement (RAA).
It is clear, after reading the ICANN Redemption Grace
document, that ICANN intends to modify the procedures
surrounding expired and deleted domain names (possibly by
adopting a policy and procedure as referenced in 3.7.5 and
3.7.11 of the RAA) in order to reduce complaints from
businesses and consumers. ICANN has called upon the Internet
community for questions and comments during the time leading
up to, and at, the meeting on March 10-14, 2002.
The ICANN Redemption Grace document states, in paragraph 3
under "Effects of Unintentional Deletions," that a
"significant portion of the demand for registration of deleted
domains involves domains that the former registrant did not
intend to have deleted" and that "the registry operator
involved is forced to cope with extraordinary re-registration
demand from domain-name speculators for the rights to domains
that were mistakenly or unintentionally deleted." Although
VGRS has acknowledged the existence of the ICANN Redemption
Grace document, it never-the-less wishes to push forward with
implementation of WLS (See VeriSign Responses at A.3., B.8.,
B.22.c. and D.12.).
It seems to be generally accepted that all Registrars will
drop/delete domain names within 45 days following expiration
and it is recognized that Registrars have the latitude to
delete a name the day following expiration, if they chose to
do so. Maintaining the expired registration during the 45 day
period is capital intensive and, therefore, expensive for the
which actually encourages a Registrar to delete the domain
name sooner than later.
In addition to the foregoing, there is no authority in the
current procedure for addressing potential abuses, i.e.
nothing explicitly denies a Registrar the right to auction, or
otherwise sell, an expired domain name during the grace
period, to otherwise hoard expired domain names or to charge
the Registrant more, simply because they renewed during the
post-expiration grace period. In fact, there have been
frequent complaints on the GA list about the hoarding of
domain names by Registrars.
3. There is consumer demand for deleted domain names.
According to Chuck Gomes,
potential domain name holders have requested some sort of a
wait list service since 1996.
In fact, in the Spring of 2001, VGRS temporarily shut off
Registrar' connections and temporarily closed the process of
deleting expired names, to address the load problem on VGRS
systems. This load problem was due to the demand for deleted
names. Thereafter, VGRS implemented a solution of relegating
batch requests for deleting names to one of three pools and
rate limiting to prevent this high volume traffic from
overloading its systems.
Further, the concept of a VGRS/SnapNames system was introduced
by VGRS, as a result of the increased load on VGRS systems, in
Montevideo, Uruguay in September 2001. However, VGRS now
states that WLS is not a solution (see VGRS Responses at
Today, however, there are several entities providing some sort
of deleted name registration service, including, but not
limited to: SnapNames, eNom, NicGenie, IARegistry, AWRegistry,
Signature Domains, INWW, OnlineNic, AddressCreation,
AllDomains, EastCom, PayCenter, ExpireFish. Others may also
offer competitive and differing services, in response to
market demand, in the future.
VGRS was specifically contracted by ICANN to maintain a
registry free of commercial and possible monopolistic
marketing and, as such, has no marketing tasks. The WLS would,
in fact, replace the diversity of products which already serve
this market leaving the consumer with no alternative choices.
VGRS and Snapnames base their proposal now on "market demands"
however they do not bring any evidence that there is such a
thing as market demand, nor do they give any thesis upon which
this demand should be based.
Pricing is determined by "what the market can bare", whilst any
proof of cost for such a system is denied based upon confidentiality
of such data, yet in order to ascertain the
value of a product, cost-price is an important "given".
To determine consensus on the new product without all relevant
data is impossible.
4. WLS and VGRS System Load Problem.
The WLS proposal dated 12/30/2001 suggested that WLS would
solve the VGRS system problems which were brought about by
demand for deleted names. The revised WLS proposal also speaks
to the VGRS system in section 7. However, according to Chuck
"could make" a positive impact, but it "won't solve" the
problem. However, VGRS states that WLS is not a solution, at
all (see VGRS Responses at B.1.).
Furthermore, VGRS states they have implemented changes which
solved the VGRS system load problem (see VGRS Responses at
B.2., B.3. D.3.a. and D.3.b.), and that a long range solution
may never be feasible (see VGRS Responses at D.3.b.).
5. It is one of ICANN's responsibilities, under its agreement with the
Department of Commerce (DOC), to ensure a competitive market.
ICANN has promoted and created competing Registrars. ICANN has
promoted and created additional Registries. The TLD .org is in
the early process of divestiture.
6. The name space belongs to the public.
Neither ICANN, the Registry or the Registrars have any right
to any domain name, unless they have registered that name and
paid the appropriate registration fee. This concept is equally
applicable to expired domain names which have not yet been
deleted and made available to the public for registration.
VGRS seems to have a different position (see VGRS Responses at
Remains whether a clear deletion of a name should not be that
what it pertains to be, a "deletion" :
Pronunciation: di-'lEt, dE-
Function: transitive verb
Inflected Form(s): de·let·ed; de·let·ing
Etymology: Latin deletus, past participle of delEre to wipe out,
Date: circa 1605
: to eliminate especially by blotting out, cutting out, or erasing
Once something is erased, can it be sold again as "still existing" or
is it gone and can it only be sold as "new" hence upfront eliminating
the option of a WLS.
The GA has several concerns about the proposed WLS:
1. VGRS is the Sole Authority
The metrics and the determination of the success or failure of
the WLS test is in the exclusive control of VGRS and not
consensus based (see VGRS Responses at B.14.d.).
2. SnapNames will Have an Advantage
VGRS has devised a means to protect the existing business of
its partner, SnapNames, but has not done the same for the
other participants in the after-market (See VGRS Responses at
3. It is Not Just a 1 Year Test
Subscriptions do not expire at the end of the test period (see
VGRS Responses at B.23.) but continue until maturity.
Consequently, a subscription taken on the last day of the 12
month test period will not expire for another year. However,
VGRS will not accept new subscriptions beyond the 12 month
test (see VGRS Responses at D.4.).
4. No Consumer Choice
Today, the potential registrants have a choice of several
diverse service offerings, with differing price structures.
Implementation of the WLS guarantees that there will be no
additional and differentiated offerings to enter the market. In
fact, it absolutely guarantees there will be only one service
Price differentiation, if any is possible under the last
proposed pricing structure, does not make a differentiated
market. Even in the revised pricing structure, VGRS is clearly
5. No Innovation or Service Differentiation
Today, Registrars compete on the basis of price and service
differentiation. Under the proposal, the lion's share of the
revenue goes to VGRS, leaving a thin margin for Registrars
and, effectively, no margin for Resellers. Consequently, it
limits the capability of the Registrars and Resellers to
innovate and differentiate their offerings.
Further, since VGRS is in full control of the entire delivery
mechanism, there is little opportunity, if any, for the
Registrars to innovate, irrespective of the already
substantial cost structure.
6. Runs-Out/Kills the Current Participants
The WLS will remove all competitors from an already thriving
and growing market. WLS guarantees that there will be no
competition and therefore, the consumers will have no
competitive choice. This flies in the face of ICANN's
responsibilities under its agreement with the DOC and
contravenes the rudimentary principles of free enterprise and
a competitive marketplace.
Indeed, VGRS seems to have no concern for the already
competitive market, to those entities already serving this
market or to consumer choice (See VGRS Responses at B.14.a.,
B.15., B.24. and D.2.).
7. Expanded Monopolistic Powers
This proposal extends VGRS's registry status to that of an
active market participant, taking the lion's share of the
revenue, eliminating all current competition and completely
controlling an already thriving market. Although we recognize,
and agree with, VGRS's rebuttal that the Registrar is not
contractually limited to fixing their own price, price is not
the only consideration and certainly not the major concern.
It is ICANN's charter and responsibility to break-up monopoly
power - not add to it.
8. Consumers Pay, but May Not Receive Any Value
The WLS requires payment, regardless of whether the consumer
receives the value of actually being able to register the
name. In contrast, the current market includes services which
only require payment in the event the consumer actually gets
to register the name.
Some consumers may not mind taking the risk of paying for a
WLS subscriptions, but other consumers are likely to take
issue and seek out an alternative. Alas, however, WLS will be
the "only game in town" and the consumer will have no
Further, all of the financial risk, with respect to credit
card charge-backs and similar disputes, is placed solely on
the shoulders of the Registrars, with no indemnification from,
or participation by, VGRS, although VGRS is clearly the
benefactor of the lion's share of the revenue (See VGRS
Responses at B.6., B.12..
9. No Solution to VGRS System Problems
As cited above, the initial WLS proposal of 12/30/01 and the
revised WLS proposal of 1/28/02 speak to the benefit of WLS to
the VGRS system problems. However, as also cited above, WLS is
not a solution to the VGRS problems in the short or long term.
Furthermore, as also indicated above, VGRS now states that the
problems are solved and that no other longer range solution
may ever be feasible.
However, it seems that WLS is intended to decrease demand, by
narrowing the market to one service, one provider, one
delivery mechanism and by increasing the price, in order to
deal with the load problem, instead of dealing with it
appropriately, at a technical level. The only obvious
benefactors of this approach are VGRS and its partner,
SnapNames. There is no merit in it for the rest of the
10. Increased Costs to Potential Registrants
VGRS bases the pricing of WLS upon the concept of "what the
market will bear" and not based upon cost (See VGRS Responses
at B.11.). VGRS and SnapNames have presented several
arguments, and unsubstantiated data, on the GA list in support
this pricing model. Further, VGRS and SnapNames have argued
that the system costs are substantial, but have not presented
any credible facts to support these assertions. Although, the
VGRS contract with ICANN is on the basis of "cost-related"
pricing, VGRS now to seeks to introduce a very different price
model and to obtain consensus for it.
There is no denying the fact that the current participants in
this market (including VGRS) need to make a profit, in order
to survive and to flourish. Considering the high wholesale
cost of this service to Registrars, as compared to a normal
registration, we speculate (as does VGRS and SnapNames,
speculate to the contrary in prior rebuttals), that the
service is over-priced. Therefore, we conclude it is not
reasonably calculated to benefit anyone except VGRS and its
The consumer's cost to register a deleted domain name will be
roughly 500% more than registering a deleted domain name in
the current market. We fail to see how this increased cost
benefits the consumer. This is particularly troublesome when
considering that some, maybe most, consumers will pay a high
fee, but never actually receive the right to register a
deleted domain name.
Cost, however, is not the only major point of concern, when
objectively evaluating WLS in light of domain name customers
and potential Registrants.
The GA discussed many concerns with respect to the WLS proposal and
cited the major, but not all, concerns, above.
Respectfully, and due to the major concerns cited above, the GA
does not support or endorse the WLS proposal in any manner.
The GA's submits the following alternative ideas for consideration:
1. That we now turn our attention to the ICANN Redemption Grace
document and work with dispatch to achieve consensus which results in
a policy and procedure to be adopted for 3.7.5 and 3.7.11 of the RAA.
In particular, the policy and procedure should safeguard the rights of
Registrants during the post-expiration grace period and it should
contain specific language designed to prevent potential abuses by the
Registries and Registrars.
2. That ICANN should enforce the RAA with VeriSign Registrar and other
Registrars, as may be appropriate under the circumstances, with
respect to dropping all of the hoarded domain names and discontinuing
the practice of hoarding domain names.
The DNSO General Assembly
Abel S.H. Wisman
Scottish Provident House
76-80 College Road
+44 20 8424 2422
+44 78 1214 1916
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