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DotEco Bids Heat Up - Catfight Anyone?

Michele Neylon

The new Top-Level Domain (TLD) process is occupying a lot of people in the domain name industry at present.

While some people are obviously very much against the entire concept of new TLDs, there are plenty of people and organisations who support the project.

But what happens when you have more than one organisation vying for the same namespace?

While the ICANN new TLD application process itself has its own way of dealing with competing bids there's nothing to stop the interested parties in "duking it out" in public.

Seemingly the competition between two rival bids for .eco (doteco) has been getting more than a little dirty in the past few weeks.

Earlier this evening Dot Eco LLC, which is backed by Al Gore, the Sierra Club, the Alliance for Climate Protection and Surfrider Foundation, issued what they called an "open examination” of the competing bids. Anyone reading it would be excused for seeing it as a gauntlet being thrown by Dot Eco LLC in the face of Big Room's competing bid — and its partner Afilias.

The document, which runs to 17 pages, makes for interesting reading and examines the credentials of both bids, while also questioning the viability and chances of success of the rival bid.

For example, the economic analysis draws on the financials of PIR, which runs .org. PIR uses Afilias to run their backend, so it would not be unreasonable to assume that any arrangements Afilias has made with that registry would be emulated with others.

Of course this is a theory — not fact, but it is one that has been logically argued and demonstrated using data based on existing TLDs.

Having said that, Dot Eco LLC have been very open about the costs they will face from their chosen backend provider — Minds and Machines.

Minds and Machines have, in turn, also made a public commitment to "going green" and will also be incentivising their registrar partners to adopt "green" policies.

Have Afilias done anything similar?

While the public catfight between the two competing bids may be interesting to watch as it plays out it does, from an observer's perspective, raise a couple of interesting issues.

Presuming that other strings are going to be as attractive as .eco is for the two rivals mentioned (and without even mentioning the potential bid for .green), can expect to see a certain degree of this sort of mudslinging between future rival bids?

If some of the new TLD bids are going to have "agendas" attached to them, will they be viable or will we end up with a bunch of tiny namespaces that nobody uses or really cares about?

While it is clear that not all TLD projects are motivated purely by economics a lot of them will have taken on outside investors. If the investors do not get some form of return, will they walk away?

In many respects this kind of public catfight could act as just the first sign of worse to come.

By Michele Neylon, MD of Blacknight Solutions. More blog posts from Michele Neylon can also be read here.

Related topics: Domain Names, Registry Services, ICANN, Internet Governance, Top-Level Domains

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