GoDaddy and Afilias have made a bid to run .us. Are they the right parties to run this important domain?
Domain registrar and webhosting company GoDaddy and registry Afilias have formed a joint venture to make a bid to run the .us country code domain name (ccTLD). The joint venture, called Domain Name Alliance Registry, submitted its proposal to the U.S. National Telecommunications & Information Administration, which controls the contract for .us.
There’s no doubt that .us hasn’t caught on like other ccTLDs. Although people can debate the reasons all day, few would disagree that putting some marketing power behind .us would be good. But is Alliance Registry the right group to take over .us?
I talked to Brian Cute, Director of usTLD Development at AllianceRegistry, to get answers to some of the common questions about his organization’s bid to run .us. I have summarized his answers to key questions about the joint venture.
Will there be a conflict of interest having a registrar also be a registry? If GoDaddy profits from each .us domain sold, they could sell them for cheaper than other registrars.
“There is an existing .us tld code of conduct that [current .us registry] NeuStar has,” says Cute. “We will commit to the same agreement which includes treating all registrars equally.” He says that GoDaddy and Afilias have also agreed to internal controls. If registrars don’t have confidence that .us is being run fairly, they will not support .us and it will fail, so it’s in their best interests to avoid any conflict.
Afilias has managed conflict of interest issues well in the past, says Cute. “Afilias was founded by and continues to have a number of registrar shareholders,” he says. “Afilias has seven years of history without any issues.”
GoDaddy’s marketing tactics have been “beer commercial style” with a focus on women. Could this affect how the U.S. government views GoDaddy being part of the registry?
Cute says GoDaddy’s marketing of its registrar and webhosting business is completely separate from running and marketing the .us registry. He says GoDaddy will provide strong marketing for .us and has a history of good customer support.
In 2005, GoDaddy CEO Bob Parsons spoke out publicly against the National Telecommunications & Information Administration’s decision to disallow domain privacy on .US. Will this affect Alliance Registry’s chances at winning this contract if there’s a sour taste in the NTIA’s mouth?
“I can’t speak for what the Department of Commerce is thinking,” says Cute. But he says the registry will follow all rules as provided by NTIA.
In a recent press release, Alliance Registry declared that one of its enhancements to .us will be “Enhanced Locality space support to enable every city and town in America to have its own dedicated space within the usTLD (e.g. anytown.us)”. How is that possible if almost all of the anytown.us domains are already registered by individuals?
Cute says Alliance Registry will help organize third level locality names, such as fairfax.va.us. He says that NeuStar has not been good about managing this namespace. As for second level .us locality domains, Alliance Registry believes some marketing can be put behind these.
What do you think Alliance Registry’s odds are of winning the contract?
“It’s always hard to unseat the incumbent,” Cute says referring to NeuStar. “NeuStar has a six year track record that is spotty to say the least.”
It is unclear who else may be bidding for the contract. A decision should be made later this month.