As part of new TLD process, ICANN commissions study on pricing restrictions for registries.
After receiving a number of comments about lack of pricing limits in new TLD registry agreements, Internet Corporation For Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has commissioned a study to determine if price caps should be implemented.
A number of domain owners were concerned that the first draft registry agreement for new top level domains did not have price caps, and that existing registry agreements could adopt these same terms through “equal treatment” clauses. In other words, VeriSign (NASDAQ: VRSN) could increase prices on .com domains to $100 a year or charge variable pricing, such as $100,000 for Google to renew Google.com and more money for domainers to renew good domains.
In addition to commissioning a study to evaluate price caps, the second version of ICANN’s new gTLD guidebook includes two provisions related to price increases. First, registries must give six months notice of changes. Second, registries must allow registrants to renew domain names for up to 10 years at a time. The combination of these would protect domain owners to a degree; if a registry decided to drastically increase prices then domain owners could renew for 10 years at current prices. However, 10 years is not eternity and drastic price increases would be harmful to the future of the internet.
Hopefully these two provisions will survive along with additional rules about rates of increases and competitive price bidding for renewal of registry agreements.
My general take is that registries should have light pricing constraints to set new registration prices but should have caps on increasing renewal fees.