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.Pro Asking for Second-Level Domains (Again)

In a Message from RegistryPro Advisory Board to Tina Dam on 24 October 2003, it is noted that .Pro is, again, asking ICANN to allow for the registration of 2nd level domains.

“We understand that RegistryPro has requested a modification of its Registry Agreement with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to provide for the offering of a second-level .Pro domain name alternative to the third-level .Pro domain name which ICANN has already approved (Second-Level Domain Proposal). The primary purpose of the second-level .Pro domain name is to offer the consumer greater choice with respect to available naming conventions.

We believe this choice will enhance the appeal of .Pro to our distribution channel. The proposed second-level .Pro domain will continue to uphold Pro’s existing eligibility requirements and registration restrictions and will simply offer wider latitude to end-users.”

I am, again, of mixed opinion on this. On the one hand, a registry should be able to do what it wants, within reason. This clearly falls into that category.

On the other hand, .Pro has been denied once already on the grounds that registering 2nd level domains is not the proposal upon which they were approved in the “testbed” procedure of November 2000. ICANN has correctly pointed out that it was not able to approve everyone and, as such, must hold applicants to their proposals. I have to agree, and feel that this overrides the right for a registry to do what it wants. Were there robust competition in the marketplace, and other prospective registries allowed to compete, this wouldn’t be an issue.

Until such time as the “testbed” is over (and ICANN has stated that it is not), registries should not be allowed to change their operating proposals. They have a huge competitive advantage as a result of being chosen based on those proposals. To allow them to change now is to throw out the entire process as worthless, calling it nothing more than a beauty contest. Indeed, a beauty contest in which the winners, if they didn’t succeed, can change their contestants after they win.

If the “winners” in 2000 must now change their procedures in order to be successful, then we have one of two possible reasons. Either the process of their selection was flawed, or we have a distinct lack of competent competitive players. Either reason is bad.

My suggestion: ICANN should tell .Pro that they can open up the 2nd level just as soon as, but not sooner than a process for adding more TLDs is created and operational.

By Christopher Ambler, Chief Software Strategist

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James Seng  –  Nov 5, 2003 6:38 AM

Business environment changes rapidly as do consumer choice. We cannot expect business to start offering unprofitable services just to proof a point.

It is better to acknowledge a mistake and fix it quickly.

Christopher Ambler  –  Nov 5, 2003 5:42 PM

Absolutely, James - once the testbed is over and new competition is allowed. Otherwise, you invalidate the testbed and give more protected-market advantages to existing players.

That’s hardly fair (and in some markets might even be illegal)

Daniel R. Tobias  –  Nov 5, 2003 7:44 PM

On the other hand, .name has already been approved for second-level registrations, a modification from the original agreement; it would be unfair to allow that while denying other TLDs’ similar modification requests.

Christopher Ambler  –  Nov 5, 2003 7:46 PM

Indeed. I believe that the approval for .name was wrong, just as the approval for .pro was wrong.

James Seng  –  Nov 7, 2003 3:38 AM

the “testbed” goal is really to find out if we can have more TLDs (remember some were arguing back then we can have millions of TLDs?) and more importantly to me, will it bring competition to NSOL.

While ICANN have not release any official results of this testbed, I believe the first goal has been successfully demostrated but the latter is unfortunately quite disappointing.

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