Hidden bomb in new gTLD agreement could introduce tiered pricing to .com domains.
Upset about VeriSign (NASDAQ: VRSN) increasing your .com registration fees 7% a year? Imagine if they could raise them by whatever they want.
There’s a little time bomb in the new draft gTLD registry agreement, part of the new top level domain rollout process, that could make this happen.
Essentially, the new registry agreement wouldn’t place any pricing restrictions on registries as they introduce new domains, such as .cars. They can price them however they want, including variable pricing as is done for the .tv country code. This can apply to new registrations or renewals. (For example, for .tv you’ll currently pay a higher registration and renewal fee for money.tv than somelamekeyword.tv.) The only requirement is that these prices be made transparent.
ICANN considered removing pricing caps for domains such as .biz and .info back in 2006, but the community helped persuade it otherwise.
“Big deal,” you say. You don’t plan to register any of these new domains.
That’s where the hidden bomb comes in. There’s an “equal treatment” clause in registry agreements that states essentially one registry won’t get something that another registry doesn’t get. In other words, if the draft new gTLD and registry agreement aren’t changed, then VeriSign could argue that it shouldn’t have price restrictions anymore. You could end up getting hit with a $10,000 renewal fee for your prized domains.
Corporations should care about this, too, since they rely on their domain names for commerce and e-mail. Imagine if VeriSign suddenly wanted to charge AT&T $1 billion a year to renew att.com.
I don’t have a problem with pricing for new domain registrations going up. But renewals should be grandfathered or capped.
In order to stop this from happening, it’s important that you comment on the drafts. You can comment on this particular section of the draft by sending an e-mail to gtld-transition [at] icann.org. You can read current comments here.