Selection of the registrars could
be delayed for several reasons, however. For example, ICANN is not yet named in Network
Solutions' agreement, a detail ICANN says has to be hammered out before the committee and
the five new registrars can be selected.
"We have no legal standing until Commerce formally issues a notice substituting
NEWCO for ICANN in the agreement with Network Solutions," said Michael Roberts,
interim CEO of ICANN. "When they get that squared away, we are in the process of
picking the committee. We're waiting on the government. They told us they are working on
Although ICANN hasn't nailed down exactly how they are going to pick the five
registrars, the Commerce official said, "I think we are still on for March."
In addition, ICANN's initial board members still are formulating accreditation
requirements, and still are working on things like adding new top-level domains and
setting up a membership base that will elect an international board to oversee the Net's
underpinnings in 2000--when the transition process is set to end.
Forman of Register.com says those five spots are coveted, but that there are other
"There is no official way to apply," he said.
In Net time, a head start could go a long way. "Without access to that database
you can't compete," Forman said. "Once they roll it out, we'll still need time
to build a system to match it. Network Solutions has everything to gain if this is dragged
If all goes as planned, by the end of March the five competitors will start registering
domain names by tapping into Network Solutions' system. Ideally, prices should go down for
registrants because the cost will drop for companies like Register.com. Registrants now
have to pay $119 for a two-year registration. If a trial period for the selected five
registrars goes off without affecting the Net's stability, Network Solutions will by July
1999 give any accredited registrar "equivalent access" to the "shared
Network Solutions, for its part, insists that it is not thwarting the process and is
ready for competition.
"When we get a list of five accredited registrars, then we will make available to
them, under a nondisclosure agreement, the specifications they need to build their
systems," said Don Telage, senior vice president at Network Solutions.
"After the trial, assuming we don't have any nightmares, we'll open it up to an
orderly transition to any number of registrars," he added. "We are working
actively to make this happen in an orderly and stable way--there is no game going on here.
This is serious work, it takes time, money, and people."