ABACUS AMERICA, INC.
A. General Description of the Application
- TLD String(s) Requested.
General Purpose, General.
Abacus America, Inc. (“Abacus America”) requests 5 TLDs with its application focused primarily on the .biz TLD. Accordingly, Abacus America qualifies for the general purpose category and general group because .biz is a generally unrestricted TLD targeting a broad registrant and end user base. Furthermore, Abacus America’s entire application is focused primarily on commercial uses.
- Sponsor, Registry Operator and Subcontractor.
b. Registry Operator.
Abacus America is a California corporation which has been in business since 1992. It has two major divisions: (1) A+Net Internet Services (www.aplus.net) and (2) Rodopi Software (www.rodopi.com). A+Net Internet Services is a diversified Internet service provider ("ISP") and ICANN accredited domain names registrar. It claims to have over 30,000 paying customers and over 150,000 users of the free services offered by A+Net Internet Services. Rodopi Software develops and sells Rodopi, provisioning, billing and customer care software package for ISPs. Abacus America claims that over 600 ISPs are using Rodopi software. Abacus America states that its entire focus is on Internet services and products. Moreover, it claims to have been preparing for the past two years to operate one of the new TLD registries and has developed the Rodopi R software, a complete system for ICANN-accredited registries, toward that goal.
Abacus America does not anticipate using subcontractors for outsourcing the registry operation in part or in whole in the sense provided by ICANN.
- Registry-Registrar Model.
Abacus America intends to utilize any registrar so long as they meet existing accreditation criteria promulgated by ICANN. Abacus America will not act as a registrar for the TLD for which it is a registry and will not provide registration services directly to consumers and business.
B. Technical Review
- Summary Description of Proposal.
Abacus America proposes the above named TLDs as more specialized successors to the .com domain. No specific procedures are proposed to enforce the segmentation. The software platform would be Rodopi R, a proprietary registry administration package developed by a subsidiary of Abacus America. Modest future upgrades to existing DNS management practice are proposed. The business plan estimates that registrations will run about 1 million per quarter after a startup quarter in which 3 million domains would be registered.
- Support of the Business Plan by the Technical Plan.
a. Total Capacity.
The equipment appears less well configured than other proposals for similar TLDs.
b. Projected Growth Rate.
The machine architecture described in the technical plan does not appear to be designed to scale up rapidly. The architecture described relies on individual dual processor systems running Microsoft Windows 2000. Preferable choices are clustered systems or hosting on a platform that scales to larger configurations through simple substitution of other computers.
c. Startup Period.
The technical plan projects 10,000 registrations on the first day, 100,000 in the first week, 1 million in the first month and 3 million in the first quarter. Were the applicant to be granted all of the TLDs being requested, the land rush period is likely to see far higher volumes than these. The systems do not appear to be sufficient to handle the startup period.
d. Fault Tolerance.
The fault tolerance strategy for all machines except root DNS servers is to keep spare machines hot. The failover strategy was not described. There was no provision for a second geographic location for servers other than DNS servers.
Standard security mechanisms were described for physical and network security.
- Summary of Relevant Experience.
Abacus America appears to have extensive experience with Internet related software development, computer systems, network administration, DNS administration and DNS registration.
- Apparent Implementation Risks.
The proposed Registry software, Rodopi R, has not been deployed in a production environment. The infrastructure appears to be undersized for the land rush period, and the architecture does not appear to allow for easy scaling up.
- Available of Human, Operational and Technical Resources to Cope with Unexpected Events.
Abacus America has an experienced technical staff that presumably could be diverted to help deal with a surprise.
- Advancing the State of the Art.
Rodopi R is a new software platform for registry administration. Abacus America appears to be prepared to license this software to operators of other registries, perhaps making it easier to authorize additional TLDs.
- Other Comments.
C. Business Review
- Applicant’s Representations.
Abacus America is currently a domain name registrar, and also provides such services as web hosting, dial-up ISP, broadband ISP, e-commerce solutions, server hosting, credit card processing, web advertising, and ISP software production. There are currently 74 full-time employees. Abacus America’s revenue was $5.2 million for the nine months ended March 31, 2000, and its net assets were approximately $851,000 at March 31, 2000.
The subscription-based revenue model includes a $6 annual registration fee. Abacus America will not provide registrar services for a TLD for which it is also the registry. With its diverse group of TLDs, Abacus America’s target market includes businesses, corporations, adult-oriented websites, families, and youth. The application does not discuss the size of each of these markets but does stratify its demand projections.
- ICANN’s Evaluation.
The strengths of this application lie in management’s experience as a registrar and the large potential markets for the requested TLDs. The weaknesses lie in its lack of a detailed analysis of each target market, and the lack of detailed marketing/promotional strategy for each of the different markets it proposes to target. Without the needed market analysis, this application has not demonstrated a complete and thorough understanding of the relevant issues. Overall, there are other applications in this category that are stronger from a business perspective.
D. Summary of Public Comments
- Number of Comments.
- Support for the Application.
.Cool would fill a void in on-line services aimed at young people and separate the “younger generation” from others.
Abacus America is a well-capitalized company, able to deliver on its proposal.
The Abacus America proposal will help alleviate the problem of “cyber-squatters”.
.Biz would help segregate business websites into their own TLD and perhaps reduce the pressure on .com.
Abacus America has stated that it will not compete with registrars.
Abacus America has proposed the highest percentage of MSNBC’s “top ten” new TLDs and is the only applicant currently demonstrating registry technology live.
- Opposition to Application.
A writer expressed concern that the .biz TLD could be confused with the .bz ccTLD rights of the country of Belize.
Other concerns were expressed that the proposed .xxx and .sex TLDs could eventually lead to free speech restrictions.
Some writers were worried about the ideas of the same entity proposing both the .xxx TLD and the .fam TLD.
One writer was concerned that awarding a “generic” TLD like .biz to a private company would, in effect, be granting the company “a license to print money.”