THE DOTNOM CONSORTIUM
A. General Description of the Application
- TLD String(s) Requested.
General Purpose, Personal.
The application was filed by the .TV Corporation International ("dotTV") on behalf of The dotNOM Consortium ("DNC") for the right to operate and administer the registry of the .nom TLD. The application focuses on personal webspace and proposes a generally unrestricted TLD targeted to a large registrant base and a large end user group. Accordingly, DNC qualifies for the general purpose category, personal group.
- Sponsor, Registry Operator and Subcontractor.
b. Registry Operator.
The DNC is an unincorporated joint venture which proposes to incorporate as a Delaware corporation upon approval of the application. Conditional upon award, the entities comprising the DNC (the "Partners") include: (1) dotTV, (2) Lycos, Inc., (3) XO Communications, Inc., (4) SK Telecom C, Ltd., (5) 7DC, Inc. and (6) OnlineNIC, Inc. DNC will be organized as a joint venture corporation which shall be jointly owned and controlled by the Partners. All management, marketing, business development, finance/administrative and legal functions will be performed directly by DNC's own personnel. DNC will outsource to dotTV all technical functions with regard to the .nom registry.
Pursuant to an exclusive agreement with the Government of Tuvalu, dotTV is a registrar and the exclusive worldwide registry for second-level domain names in the .tv TLD. dotTV received its initial funding in November of 1999 and began registering .tv domain names in April 2000. As an operating registry, dotTV claims to have in place state-of-the-art global technical infrastructure and high-speed name resolution capability which would be required by any prospective registry operator. dotTV's primary source of income is derived from the registration of .tv domain names. dotTV claims that since its launch in April of 2000, thousands of companies from around the globe have launched websites with the .tv TLD and that as of September 25, 2000 dotTV had registered over 100,000 names within the .tv TLD.
- Registry-Registrar Model.
DNC proposes to operate solely as a registry with regard to the new TLD. DNC proposes to authorize the involvement of both ICANN accredited and non-accredited registrars.
B. Technical Review
- Summary Description of Proposal.
A consortium of several large Internet corporations proposes a personal name TLD called .nom. They plan to support the registry on the existing dotTV registry infrastructure, augmented with extra hardware. They make no proposals concerning organization of the .nom namespace or other issues related to a personal name TLD.
- Support of the Business Plan by the Technical Plan.
a. Total Capacity.
The applicant proposes to upgrade the existing dotTV registry to support the DotNom requirements through addition of hardware. Based on the information presented, the architecture seems amenable to such a strategy. However, the proposed registry is orders of magnitude larger than the current dotTv registry, and it is not uncommon for such extreme scalability requirements to require architectural changes, especially in the relationship between support systems and the core application.
b. Projected Growth Rate.
The Registry Operatorís Proposal forecasts a gradual, near linear growth in the domain registrations. The proposal supports that forecast. As noted in the Startup Period below, this does not match the forecasts assumed in the Statement of Policies. The technical team harbors doubts about whether the forecast in the Registry Operatorís Proposal is realistic and was presented with no evidence that the growth pattern forecast in the Statement of Policies was supported by the technical plan.
c. Startup Period.
In the body of the proposal and in the proformas DNC estimates a relatively slow start to the TLD, forecasting 65,000 registrations in the first month. DNC estimates that existing servers at dotTV can handle up to 20,000 registrations per day. In the Statement of Policies DNC estimates that there will be heavy traffic in the startup period, forecasting on the order of 200,000 registrations per month in the first 8 weeks. In the estimation of the technical team, even these numbers might be low for a personal name TLD, given that DNC has proposed registration at the SLD level, no mechanism to prevent cybersquatting and no flow control mechanisms for the sunrise period. The technical team believes that this may result in a huge land rush at startup. The technical team believes that the technical plan, as presented, may not be sufficient to handle the startup period and found no justification for the discrepancy between the TLD summary and the Registry Operatorís Proposal.
d. Fault Tolerance.
Acceptable. The architectural diagrams suggest reasonable redundancy in the data centers, and they offer a very wide geographic spread of registry servers and especially DNS servers.
The discussion of security for the dotTV proposal is so limited that it is difficult to assess the electronic security plans. Physical security should be adequate.
- Summary of Relevant Experience.
The major relevant experience is from the dotTV partner, which runs the .tv registry. This registry contains 100,000 names, and deals with a different audience than the proposed registry. Another partner has some experience as a registrar in China, but it is unclear what form of participation that partner will take. Lycos has vast experience running a leading search engine, but it is unclear what role they will play in the consortium, and that experience is not directly relevant to running a registry.
- Apparent Implementation Risks.
In essence, DNC plans to throw a huge domain registry on top of a small one that has been moderately successful for about six months. Scalability of the existing platform is unproven.
As noted above, it is difficult to assess the security proposed.
The applicants say little about problems related to startup of the service. There is a very strong risk that they will not be ready for high demand when they turn the TLD on, possibly crippling its utility. One also might expect that the Whois traffic to a personal domain would be heavy due to attempted data mining operations.
- Available of Human, Operational and Technical Resources to Cope with Unexpected Events.
DNC currently has no employees. The applicant proposes to staff the company once the TLD is awarded. DotTV is responsible for technical staffing and has demonstrated the ability hire people for registry operations. Apparently the other partner companies are not expected to contribute staff.
- Advancing the State of the Art.
The proposal does not suggest any new technical ideas or technical improvements in Internet naming services.
- Other Comments.
C. Business Review
- Applicantís Representations.
Per the application, the DNC includes the following entities: (1) The .TV Corporation International, (2) Lycos, Inc., (3) XO Communications, Inc., (4) SK Telecom Co. Ltd, (5) 7DC, Inc. and (6) OnlineNIC, Inc. dotTV is the registry for the .tv ccTLD and has registered over 100,000 domain names. Lycos, Inc. is a leading Internet search and portal. XO Communications, formerly Concentric Network, is the largest holder of fixed wireless spectrum in North America. SK Telecom is the largest wireless telecommunications company in Korea. 7DC is a recently accredited Korean registrar. OnlineNIC is an accredited registrar in China. The consortiumís mission is to facilitate and promote the introduction, distribution and adoption of .nom within the worldwide Internet community. Integral to this goal is establishing a wholesale price point that provides adequate incentive to registrars to offer registration on a consistent and equitable basis for all interested parties. dotTV has 64 employees.
The revenue model includes a wholesale price to registrars of $3.50 per domain site. In the 50 percent confidence model, this organization is projecting 10 million registrations at the end of year 5. The financial model also includes an initial capital investment of $10 million that will include equity investments from each of the partners.
- ICANNís Evaluation.
The strengths in this application lie in its understanding of the general marketplace and the amount of capital that is being sought from its partners. Overall, its treatment of its marketing plan, market size, estimated demand and resources to meet such demand appear to be adequate. However, the application is in a highly competitive category in which, by comparison, it has not demonstrated that it is as thorough and complete as the other applicants. The other applicants have prepared more thorough assessments in at least the following areas: (1) buyer profiles, (2) segmentation analysis, (3) value propositions, (4) channel strategies, (5) communications strategy, (6) pricing strategy, and (7) rationale for estimated demand. One applicant has also prepared primary research. Further, the assumptions and pro forma financial statements were the same for this application as they were in the dotPro Consortiumís application, which targeted professionals, indicating a potential lack of specificity.
D. Summary of Public Comments
- Number of Comments.
- Support for the Application.
ďIn the era of communication, it would be extremely useful to have a domain name which allows private, individuals and families to have their own destination. By opposition to commercial domain names, this would be for the benefit of people. .nom is recognized accross various cultures and would be the perfect domain for that purpose.Ē
The application offers geographic diversity including representation from the US, Asia and Europe.
The application offers industry diversity including telco, portal, registrar and a proven registry that can go head-to-head with NSI.
The application solves a problem by creating a new namespace for individuals
The application offers a very attractive wholesale price for registrars which will promote Internet communications and accessibility.
The application combines the financial resources and technical infrastructure to promote long-term stability.
- Opposition to Application.
ďA .nom or .name registry can only offer an attractive domain name to the first handful of individuals with each name then:
a) it is not a global naming resource open to all; and
b) there will be a fast 'land grab' when the registry is opened up because there will demonstrably only be a restricted number of attractive domain names.Ē
One comment questions the validity of dotNomís financial statements listed on its application.