Home / Blogs

Verisign Dodges a Bullet, Gets to Keep .COM Pricing

John Levine

According to a filing with the SEC, the Department of Commerce renewed the .COM agreement for six more years.

The renewal was held up until the last minute (the old agreement expired yesterday) due to antitrust concerns, specifically about pricing. The main change in the new agreement is that Verisign is no longer allowed to increase the price above the existing $7.85, except under some unlikely conditions such as an extremely expensive security problem, or Verisign persuades the government that the .COM domain is no longer dominant.

The reason I say they dodged a bullet is that there is no economic justification at all for the $7.85 price. Verisign has never, as far as I can tell, offered any basis for their pricing beyond the obvious facts that a whole lot of people are willing to register domains at the current price, and they provide good service.

The .NET domain, which is run identically to .COM, same service, same servers, same everything else, costs $5.86 rather than $7.85. In an investigation of monopoly pricing, one normally looks to see cost justification of the prices. Verisign competed very vigorusly for the .NET renewal in 2005, and did not ask for price increases beyond what they'd already agreed when it was renewed in 2011, so they presumably consider .NET a profitable and desirable business. An obvious question that has never been answered is why they can't run .COM for the same price. Evidently that question still hasn't been asked, since the .COM price stayed the same.

The new agreement has some other minor interesting aspects. It allows ICANN to require the registry to switch from a thin to thick WHOIS, or to the WEIRDS protocol under development in the IETF if the IETF ever finishes it.

The major winners from the price restraint is more likely to be registrars than registrants. I am a small reseller for Tucows, who pass the registry fee straight through with a fixed surcharge and let resellers charge whatever they want. If the .COM price had gone up from $7.85 to $8.40 as it was scheduled to, I probably would have eaten the extra cost and not raised prices until next year, but now I don't have to.

By John Levine, Author, Consultant & Speaker. More blog posts from John Levine can also be read here.

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

WEEKLY WRAP — Get CircleID's Weekly Summary Report by Email:

Comments

To post comments, please login or create an account.

Related Blogs

Related News

Topics

Industry Updates – Sponsored Posts

In Celebration of Marriage Equality Each New .LGBT Name Donates $20 to the It Gets Better Project

Afilias Adds .PROMO to Its Expanding List of Top Level Domains

LogicBoxes Helps .MN Registry Grow by 350%

TLD Security, Spec 11 and Business Implications

LogicBoxes Powers .NGO & .ONG Retail and Wholesale Channels for ENSET

Alabama Joins dotVOTE Movement - Announces Alabama.vote for Its Election Site

LogicBoxes Partners With Domains.Green to Setup Retail & Wholesale Channels for .green Domains

New Top-Level Domain .fit Launches, Announces Partnership with the Arnold Sports Festival

Bauer Media Joins Minds + Machines as a .fishing Pioneer

New .vote TLD Used for Arizona Voters

First Premium .yoga Domains Up for Auction

Afilias Releases 160,000+ Names Across 8 New TLDs

Deal Yourself In: .POKER Names Now Open to All

Lou Andreozzi to Lead New .Law Top-Level Domain

ICANN Business Constituency Elects Elisa Cooper of MarkMonitor as Chair

PIR Releases Report Detailing Steady Growth of .org Domain in 2014

.film to Provide New Home Online for the Film Industry

.VOTE Solves Presidential Candidate Ted Cruz's Domain Name Problem

.green Now in General Availability

ICANN's Registry Audits Begin Next Week. Are You Prepared?

Sponsored Topics