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Beyond Limitations and What Good It Would Do to ICANN to Operate from Abundance

The ICANN community is conservative. A considerable number of dedicated ICANN volunteers from various constituencies believe that ICANN should follow the unusual logic of limiting its revenues to the levels of its CURRENT estimates of expenditure. The Board, acting on the advise of the ICANN community brought down the ICANN transaction fee per domain name from 25 cents to 16 cents and in the case of numbers, for various reasons the Address Registry fees that it collects from the Regional Internet Registries have been historically kept at a negligibly low level.

ICANN’s present expenditure on its various programs is about $41 million per year and by way of management and support services it is about $17 million. The rationale followed by the ICANN community is that ICANN as a non-profit corporation should restrict its revenues to just about this much.

It is perhaps easy for the ICANN Board to adhere to this way of thinking, rather than argue for what is fair and what is required. The Board could instead point out to the Community that the end user does not exactly get his name for 16 cents plus a 20% trade mark up. The price that the end user pays per domain name, in real terms is at least about $10 for most Top Level Domain Names, up to $30 for some Top Level Domain Names and perhaps a hundred dollar or a thousand dollars for some new exotic Domain Name already announced or yet to be applied for. These are prices that a Registrant pays if the name that he or she wants is available on search and registered on availability. ICANN isn’t saving any money for the end user by keeping its fee low at the level of 16 cents.

In the case of numbers, the price that the end-user pays is hidden. In many countries, static IP addresses are allotted to users with higher bandwidth plans. So the end user is not getting an IP address at $25 cents either.

If ICANN’s negligible fee structure is not helping the end-user, who really gets the benefit? Perhaps ICANN fee is the least of the worries of Registries and Registrars, perhaps it might not matter to them much, yet this benefit goes to them, without any effort or even without any strong desire on their part.

I have nothing against the Business Community. My argument is simple. Their profits do not arise from ICANN fee being 16 cents. So I would argue for 50 cents, perhaps even a dollar per transaction and a corresponding increase in fixed fee from those Registries with which ICANN has a different arrangement. And a meaningful, rational fee for allocation of number resources though the RIR.

The Community would find it most benevolent for the good of Internet in general to make such a recommendation. The idea of enhanced revenues is to augment the size of the budget to break the barriers of constraints on the depth of the good work that ICANN has been doing. The cost of managing the Domain Name System with complete efforts is far beyond 16 cents.

1. ICANN’s Security and Stability initiatives are impressive, but needs to be further broadened. It would require a significantly larger budgetary allocation to deploy DNSSEC in the DNS infrastructure of all the Registries, the registries that can afford and to the one’s that can’t, extend it to all the Registrars, large and small, to the ccTLD registries, many of which are managed with limited resources, whether or not they are inclined to be an integral part of ICANN, to Resellers, to big, small and tiny ISPs and their local cache servers. The end user would also require client level DNSSEC deployed in his or her local computer.

2. With a level of revenues that barely make the ends meet, ICANN has opted to recover all the accumulated cost of its new gTLD program, all the overheads of application programs and the estimated cost of the application evaluation process, all from the Applicant by fixing the Application fee at a $185,000 per application with the built in hazard of the name applied for eventually auctioned off to the highest bidder. The level of fees for a new gTLD application attracted several comments during the Public Forum at Singapore. The fee could be brought down if ICANN makes sufficient provisions in its budget for the evaluation and administrative process which can be argued as classifiable as overheads.

3. The Governmental Advisory Committee at the ICANN remains a committee of Governments that can afford to travel three times a year. For GAC to be inclusive, ICANN would require a program to provide participation support to those Governments to whom foreign travel is not a priority. GNSO would require a better travel budget to improve diversity of participation within. The Business users are funded by Business and it would require ample support to balance the business representation within the GNSO. AtLarge would require various forms of budgetary support to further ICANN’s mission through the regional and local At Large Structures. The Policy Development Programs and Working Groups would be far more productive if there are budgetary provisions for face to face meetings.

4. CcTLDs need to be supported even better and all the programs that are extended to gTLDs could be extended to ccTLDs irrespective of the fact that they have opted not to be fully integrated into ICANN.

5. Five out of the six billion of the World’s population would connect better to the Internet on Internationalized Domain Names (IDN’s). The IDN community has passionately worked for it and has made it real. The commendable work that has already been done is just the beginning. What would be the next phase of IDN development in the policy and technology sphere? The work to be done is in the area of getting these five billion connect to the other billion that is on ascii and get all the six billion stay connected to one another. For ONE WORLD ONE INTERNET to be true, users have to find and access the Internet across IDN’s, communicate across IDNs, knowledge has to flow across IDN’s (and the multi-lingual web). This requires the next phase of IDN Policy Development and perhaps some research on such possibilities as Dual Stack Domain names to make IDNs identifiable by the rest of the world, a global, multi-lingual bibliography initiative and much more.

6. IPv6 transition requires plenty of funds to be promoted and supported effectively. The IPv4 address space is already depleted, but in most countries, it is only the Network Community that is aware of IPv6 and the importance of adopting the IPv6 protocol. Many Governments have still not started work on IPv6. IPv6 requires massive efforts and ICANN may consider a program designated as part of its core work to expedite IPv6 adoption.

ICANN’s present budget is just about enough money to make speeches and make presentations and certainly no where in the realm of what it takes to do all that it needs to do. $17 million in Cash, another $17 million in Receivables together with $45 million in Investments is poverty for a Non Profit Corporation that has a mission a thousand times as large as that of a Google.

Internet would connect better if ICANN operates in abundance.

By Sivasubramanian M, Proprietor, Nameshop

Views expressed here are those of the author’s only. Sivasubramanian Muthusamy also contributes to the Wealthy World weblog located here.

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