Registry-Registrar separation will create interesting circumstances for established registries.
ICANN Senior Vice President Kurt Pritz sent a letter to Neustar Vice President Jeff Neuman last week (pdf) regarding registry-registrar separation.
ICANN’s board dropped a bombshell in November when it said there would be no restrictions on registrars owning registries for new top level domains. Observers questioned how exactly this would work for existing registries such as VeriSign, which runs .com and .net.
In the letter, Pritz points out specific language in the board’s resolution:
ICANN will permit existing registry operators to transition to the new form of registry agreement, except that additional conditions may be necessary and appropriate to address particular circumstances of established registries.
Pritz then tries to clarify what this means for Neustar, which runs .biz:
…if and when ICANN launches the new gTLD program, Neustar will be entitled to serve as both a registry and registrar for new gTLDs subject to any conditions that may be necessary and appropriate to address the particular circumstances of the existing .BIZ registry agreement…
So it’s clear that existing registries will be able to own registrars and offer new gTLDs. But what about existing TLDs? Would a registrar owned by Neustar be able to sell .biz?
The bigger question would be restrictions on VeriSign and .com. If VeriSign buys a registrar, you can expect serious focus from anti-trust authorities.