Management of the .com Top Level Domain registry is going to remain with VeriSign. That's the ICANN board level decision, coming out of the ICANN meeting in Prague this morning, which approved the renewal of VeriSign's .com mastery.
VeriSign's agreement to manage .com was last renewed in 2006. The 2006 agreement had been set to expire on November 30th of this year. VeriSign has managed .com continuously with 100 percent DNS uptime since 1999.
The new agreement adds new contractual obligations for VeriSign as part of its management of .com.
"In accordance with the renewal provisions of the current .com Registry Agreement, the proposed .com renewal Registry Agreement includes modified provisions to bring .com into line with other comparable agreements (e.g. .biz, .info, .net, and .org), including modifications to terms such as functional and performance specifications, Whois, indemnification, and broad audit provisions," the ICANN board resolution states.
The VeriSign renewal followed a three month period of public comment that included 40 comments from 34 different commenters. Some comments reflected a concern over prices hikes, and multiple comments were made about opening the process to competitive bidding. According to ICANN's Board Resolution, the comments were taken under advisement as part of the renewal process. There was no competitive bidding as part of the process, under terms of previous contracts signed with VeriSign.
As was the case with previous VeriSign .com renewal agreements, the 2012 renewal includes a provision for price hikes to .com domain prices.
"Both the current .com registry agreement and the proposed renewal agreement permit Verisign to increase the price it charges registrars for domain names registrations four times during the six-year term with each increase being no greater than 7 percent," the contract states. "This provision was substantially negotiated between Verisign on the one hand, and the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Commerce, on the other."
While price hikes are typically not a welcome item, the .com prices hikes are actually lower than the negotiated hikes the ICANN has with other TLDs owners.
"If the .com pricing provisions were to be changed to be similar to the other large gTLDs then that would most likely allow Verisign to raise prices by 10 percent per year in each of the six years of the agreement, as in the .biz, .info, .net, and .org agreements," the agreement states. "Note: ICANN's registry agreement for new gTLDs and registry agreements for sponsored gTLDs (.aero, .asia, .cat, .coop, .jobs, .mobi, .museum, .post, .pro, .tel, .travel, and .xxx) do not include any price controls."
In addition to the price controls, the new VeriSign .com agreement also includes provisions to ensure IPv6 and DNSSEC as part of the TLD. VeriSign has actually already been active on both fronts since 2006, signing .com for DNSSEC in April of 2011. DNSSEC (DNS Security Extensions) provide cryptographically signed authenticity checks for DNS information.
VeriSign currently has approximately 113.8 million .com and .net domains under administration. The .net TLD is also operated by VeriSign in an agreement with ICANN that was renewed in July of 2011.