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.NET Bid Contenders

Jothan Frakes

Yesterday was the deadline for the submissions of responses to the .NET re-bid RFP. As of my last count, there are five companies that I am aware of that submitted proposals for the .NET rebid.

Three of these were quite publicly announced, Afilias, Denic, and Verisign. The other two bidders are Multi-Stakeholder groups.  Sentan and Core++.

Sentan appears to be a Joint Venture between .jp and Neulevel, and Core++ is ISC, Telfonica, and .br, with participation from Core, Nida (.kr), and .zaDNA (.za).

These are all strong players with what I am sure are very compelling proposals, and it will be interesting to see how this unfolds.

What's Next?

Here is the description of the next phase of the process called "Evaluation and Reporting Period". (source: .NET Request for Proposals [PDF]):

"ICANN will select an independent third party to manage the evaluation of the .NET proposals. That entity may utilize additional independent technical and business/financial experts to carry out that evaluation. Any such experts will be selected based on their experience, talent and skills as they apply to the evaluation task as outlined in the RFP.

This process will evaluate both the public and the non-public portions of the applications against the criteria in the RFP. As indicated above, the evaluators will first determine whether an applicant meets the absolute criteria set forth in this RFP. Thereafter, but only with respect to those applicants the evaluators determine have satisfied the absolute criteria, the evaluators will evaluate the applicants against the relative criteria, and will preliminarily rank the applicants from strongest to weakest based upon performance against the relative criteria. The evaluators will then prepare a preliminary written report on each applicant, noting substantive comments and questions. This written report on a given applicant will be provided privately to that applicant only, and each applicant will be given a specified number of days to respond to the report. All responses must be in writing. When the time period for responding to the evaluators' preliminary written report has expired, the evaluators will review their initial evaluation and ranking, together with the responses from the applicants, and prepare their final rankings of the applicants.

The final ranking of the applicants, together with the evaluators' final written report in support of that ranking, will be provided to the ICANN Board of Directors. A redacted version of that report, with confidential information about any applicant redacted, will be posted on the ICANN website. After the posting of the evaluators' report and rankings, the applicants, the internet community and the public at large will be entitled to comment on the report, the rankings and other topics of interest to them relating to the selection of a successor .NET registry operator.

Immediately following the announcement of the evaluators' final rankings, the applicant who was ranked the highest will be invited to begin intensive and speedy negotiations with ICANN on the terms of the .NET registry operator agreement. ICANN's proposed form of agreement will be posted online on or about 31 January 2005. If the highest ranking applicant and ICANN are unable to reach a mutually acceptable agreement within two weeks following the release of the rankings, then (i) ICANN will prepare for the ICANN Board a summary of the contractual points in dispute, upon which the applicant will be invited to comment prior to its submission to the ICANN Board, and (ii) the ICANN staff will immediately begin negotiations with the next highest ranked applicant with the goal of reaching an agreement (and related appendices, as appropriate) mutually acceptable to that applicant and ICANN. Each applicant should review ICANN's proposed form of agreement when it is posted, and be prepared to forward to ICANN immediately following the posting of the evaluators' final rankings the applicant's proposed changes to ICANN's form of agreement, if the applicant is the top-ranked applicant. Each applicant should also have appointed a negotiating team with the necessary authority to negotiate the agreement and be prepared, if that applicant is the top ranked applicant, to send that team to the Los Angeles area to meet in person with ICANN's negotiating team within a few days following the release of the rankings. Negotiations over the terms of the agreement will commence immediately following ICANN's review of the top-ranked applicant's proposed changes to the agreement."

By Jothan Frakes, Domain Name Industry Consultant
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Re: .NET Bid Contenders Paul Vixie  –  Jan 19, 2005 5:11 PM PDT

There's an important distinction being missed by this article. Where it says "Core++ is ISC, Telfonica, and .br, with participation from Core, Nida (.kr), and .zaDNA (.za)", it's important to note that ISC is not a member of CORE or of CORE++, but is rather a potential provider of DNS related services to CORE++ in support of .NET.

Re: .NET Bid Contenders Jothan Frakes  –  Jan 19, 2005 5:27 PM PDT

Thanks for the clarification, Paul!

Also, there is a little more information on the NWFusion and on Brett Fausett's Blog.

Re: .NET Bid Contenders Eric Brunner-Williams  –  Jan 22, 2005 4:59 PM PDT

It has been a given that VGRS will submit a defensive bid, with or without partners, and that Afilias and NeuStar would submit bids, also with and without, for .org and .net. The only things interesting is whether the bid process (ICANN side) is improved over time, the bid eval process (ICANN outsource) is better than the .org mess, and whether anyone is left outside the V/A/N set who, after the .org mess is willing to risk the six figures it minimally takes to file a credible binder.

There were a lot of ... suckers in the last round. We're down to two now out of a universe of more than a dozen capable potential operators. This is better than I thought six months ago.

If I may, these are _not_ "all strong players", and ranking them is the bottom line. Again, if I may, "how this unfolds" will be either ultra-pragmatic (the ICANN market can't sustain more than two generic operators currently), or pragmatic (the ICANN market can sustain three generic operators), or "competitive" in the usual sense of the word.

Please note that ICANN could have automatically promoted the .org bids, redacted the portions not .net specific, and informed those bid authors that their bids were also being considered. It did not do so, and no .org bidder other than the V/A/N set is present in the .net round.

Finally, I'm surprised the weeks-old ICANN advisory on the current multi-year registration fees hasn't gotten much attention. It sure got mine.

Re: .NET Bid Contenders Jothan Frakes  –  Jan 22, 2005 5:34 PM PDT

My original (and accurate… yay!) identification of the contenders preceded any official ICANN announcement of the actual list of applicants by almost 24 hours.

In the days since, there have been many articles, op-ed, and press releases about the process.

ICANN, as promised, has posted the submissions (minus any confdential components) on their website, should anyone desire to review them.

Afilias | CORE++ | DENIC | Sentan | VeriSign

I encourage the general public, in addition to registrars and other stakeholders to review these applications, as there are key differences to each.

I'd suspect that the strengths and weaknesses of each is subjective to the reader, and I reserve my opinion from here in the interests of remaining as publicly agnostic and objective as possible on this matter.

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