Cruz and two other senators question DOJ over .com pricing.
U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Mike Lee (R-Utah), and Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.) sent a letter to the Department of Justice yesterday that echoes the concerns I presented in an article about .com pricing.
The Senators want to make sure that the .com contract extension and transition of the U.S. government’s “control” of the internet does not provide an opening for Verisign to increase .com prices.
Cruz has been on a mission to delay or thwart the government transition. I’ve disagreed with most of his concerns about the transition. But I’m glad he’s asking about .com pricing.
As I wrote yesterday, I’ve tried to get clear answers about how the U.S. government will maintain a role in setting pricing for the .com monopoly going forward. I haven’t received them. Cruz’s letter should get a real answer.
We know we can’t trust ICANN to set fair prices for .com. Last time the .com contract was extended, ICANN granted Verisign the right to increase prices 7% in four of the six years of the contract. The DOJ stepped in to block the price increase.
We’re seeing the price of registry services plummet. Providing registry services at scale is very cheap, and some companies are now offering backend registry services for less than a dollar a name. Verisign charges $7.85 per name, and that’s with staggering scale — over 127 million .com domain names are registered. I’m not saying the right price for .com is a dollar, but it’s certainly not more than $7.85.
Verisign has a contractual right to renew the .com contract in perpetuity. That’s fine; it does a great job managing .com. I think the only thing that needs to be put in check is how much it gets to charge registrars each time a .com domain is registered or renewed.
Cruz’s letter cites a number of domain name industry blogs, including Domain Name Wire, The Domains and DomainIncite.