Société Internationale de Télécommunications Aéronautiques SC

A. General Description of the Application
  1. TLD String(s) Requested.
  2. Category.
    Special Purpose.

    Société Internationale de Télécommunications Aéronautiques SC ("SITA") requests the .air TLD to ensure Internet efficiencies in the air transport industry. SITA targets a restricted registrant base and a large end user group. As a result, SITA qualifies for the special purpose category.
  3. Sponsor, Registry Operator and Subcontractor.
    a. Sponsor. SITA was incorporated in Belgium in 1949 as a co-operative association and is owned and operated by and on behalf of the Air Transport Community ("ATC"). The ATC is defined as "all companies and organizations for which the main activity is related to air transport." SITA provided network, communication and related IT-based application services to its members for over 50 years. It also claims to have over 725 members who include all the major and regional airlines in the world, air freight, airports, aerospace industry manufacturers, air traffic authorities, computer reservation systems and other air transport related organizations. SITA now has over 6,000 employees. One of SITA's primary objectives, as stated in its Articles of Association, is "to foster all telecommunications and information processing . . . required in the operation of the air transport industry . . . with the aim of promoting in all countries safe and regular air transport." Only legitimate members of the air transport industry will be granted a registration in the .air, .aer or .aero TLD.
    b. Registry Operator. SITA Information Networking Computing BV-SITA, Inc. ("SITA, Inc.") is a commercial venture operational since January 1, 2000. SITA, Inc. was created from SITA SC, a cooperative alliance formed by the ATC, and purports to own one of the largest data and voice telecommunication networks in the world. SITA, Inc. is organized in units to deliver high end IT solutions to airlines, airports, aircraft, air space and freight industries. Some of the products and services currently provided by SITA, Inc. include:

    (1) Professional air transport applications in domains like reservations, Internet booking, flight management, cargo and catering;
    (2) Professional services for IT integration with companies' Enterprise Resource Planning Systems adapted to the air transport industry;
    (3) e-services to develop e-business solutions for the air transport industry;
    (4) Desktop integration at LANs and WANs levels;
    (5) Outsourcing;
    (6) Network Security Certification; and
    (7) Internet Domain Name Service Registration.
    c. Subcontractor. None.
  4. Registry-Registrar Model.
    Given the regulatory environment in which members of the air transport community operate and SITA’s limitation of domain names in the .air TLS being granted to only legitimate members of the air transport industry, SITA proposes that industry associations act as the initial registrars for the entities that belong to their prime activities. After the initial period, more registrars would offered the possibility to deal with registrants.

B. Technical Review
  1. Summary Description of Proposal.
    SITA is proposing the .air TLD primarily so that SITA membership can develop and administer a standardized name structure for Internet services provided by the membership. SITA,Inc. was organized to provide networking related services to the membership, including but not limited to running the .air TLD.
  2. Support of the Business Plan by the Technical Plan.
    a. Total Capacity. Capacity appears to be adequate for those services for which volume is a function of the size of the registry. It is unclear whether it is sufficient for services, such as Whois, which may also be a function of the size of the Internet.
    b. Projected Growth Rate. Appears adequate.
    c. Startup Period. Appears adequate, especially since the lower level domain names are assigned to a very deep level and the TLD is restricted.
    d. Fault Tolerance. Standard design.
    e. Security. Appears well thought out.
  3. Summary of Relevant Experience.
    SITA Group and its subsidiaries, SITA, Inc. and SITA SC have extensive, worldwide experience with DNS, networking and other technical tasks associated with operating a reliable global service. They anticipate using CORE SRS to manage the registry function.
  4. Apparent Implementation Risks.
    Based on usage patterns reported for existing Whois services, the equipment provided for Whois services appears to be underconfigured. Note also that the financial plan projects the purchase of one Sun 250 for this purpose, but the technical plan projects the purchase of two Sun 250s.

    The business plan assumes that investments in software, hardware and development personnel end after the first quarter of 2002. This seems very optimistic.

    The Sun E10000 to be used for the registry service apparently is not redundant. Recovery from a major failure requires replacement of the failed component and rebooting, including, in some cases, human intervention.

    The servers will be located in a NOC in Montreal, Canada. No mention is made of a backup site. However, inclusion of such a site should be straight forward since the applicant has facilities world-wide.

    The specified mix of software has not been used in this configuration, although there is no reason to believe that this introduces more than the usual software development and integration risks associated with a project of this size.
  5. Available of Human, Operational and Technical Resources to Cope with Unexpected Events.
    SITA, Inc., is a subsidiary of SITA Group, a not-for-profit consortium providing technical services to SITA membership. SITA, Inc. currently has approximately 6000 employees and operates DNS services with traffic of about 7 million lookups per day. Revenues for 2000 are projected to be about $400 million.
  6. Advancing the State of the Art.
    The SITA Inc. proposal relies on existing technology provided by CORE SRS as well as other existing capabilities provided by SITA, itself. Presumably SITA would implement a heavyweight registry / lightweight registrar model, although the plan is not explicit on the point.
  7. Other Comments.
    The primary interest expressed by SITA in developing the .air TLD is to allow SITA to administer an industry-specific domain naming scheme. Such policies and software to administer them might be of more general interest.

C. Business Review
  1. Applicant’s Representations.
    SITA is a cooperative non-profit organization fully owned by its members whose primary objective is “[t]o foster all telecommunications and information processing…required in the operation of the air transport industry… with the aim of promoting in all countries safe and regular air transport.” SITA has implemented the largest communcation network in the world. It has total revenue of approximately $1.4 billion with network services accounting for approximately $1.0 billion. It has over 6,000 employees and operate in over 200 countries.

    SITA, Inc., part of the SITA Group, will be the registry operator. Per the application, the .air TLD would allow the definition of a structured domain name architecture throughout the air transport industry and will facilitate (1) the development of B2B e-business solutions and integration of IT systems between industry partners and (2) B2C e-business and access to the information offered by the industry.

    The revenue model includes an end-user fee of $50 per name per year. This fee will be distributed to the different contributors as follows: Sponsoring Organization - $2, Registry Operator - $16, Registrar - $30 and ICANN - $2. It is expected to have around five registrars due to the size of demand. SITA expects an optimistic estimate of approximately 181,000 registrations.
  2. ICANN’s Evaluation.
    The strengths of this applicant include its focus on its target market, a strong commitment to information technology to the air transport section, and a well thought out revenue model and market definition. Overall, this is a stronger application from a business perspective given its limited audience, representation and potential ability of providing a particular community with additional utility.

D. Summary of Public Comments
  1. Number of Comments.
  2. Support for the Application.
    “SITA, a neutral organization wholly owned by the air transport community, is best suited to administer this service. SITA is well positioned and well respected in the air transport community, and is capable of providing the service to legitimate entities.”
  3. Opposition to Application.
    One commentator complained that .air was “too narrow.”
  4. Substantive Comments and/or Questions.
    One post raised several questions including:

    Why should ICANN issue an industry specific TLD to the airline industry?

    How is SITA qualified to represent a TLD on behalf of the Air Transport community?

    How does SITA propose to objectively tender registry services after three years.

    A reply was posted stating that:

    The airline industry is closely integrated

    SITA is owned by air transport companies

    After three years the registry system should be proven and therefore open to receive offers from another company.