Melbourne IT plays domain name game again

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has granted Melbourne IT a five-year renewal of its Accreditation Agreement, allowing the company to continue registering the top-level '.com', '.net' and '.org' domains.

The renewal was issued under 'stricter' criteria this time round for the registrar, with a stronger onus placed on reseller partners to comply with ICANN regulations. The criteria included ensuring that partners paid registration fees up-front for 10-year domain names therefore spreading revenue over the licence period, and proactively tracking changes in customer ISPs.

Clive Flory, general manager of Internet Names WorldWide, Melbourne IT's domain name registration arm, stressed the need for a "code of conduct to look after customers".

According to Flory, channel partners, some of which include Verio, Intuit and Prodigy, had a clean record against the criteria. Melbourne IT ensured reseller compliance "through regular spot-checking", he said.

"It's important the way registries behave towards ensuring customer security .

. . the diligence they have and securing the rights of the domain name."He lamented the rise of "so many new mum and pop players" to the market.

Around 90 small commercial and non-profit local registries have launched, Flory said. Small-time competitors would specialise in 10-year domains, he speculated.

He claimed that this posed the risk of unethical registries entering the market, not paying for licences in full and not "maintaining the customer".

Flory believes this is normal practice for a "large proportion" of startups.

"What if the (registrar) goes broke?" he mused. "I'd be scared to register my business with them."In Flory's eyes, domain names are a "valuable commodity", creating a competitive global market.

The global domain name registration market is worth $1.5 billion, according to Flory. Seventeen million domain names are registered worldwide, with a name worth $US20 on average.

Larry Bloch, chief executive officer of NetRegistry, predicts the market will "explode" with rising personal domain name registrations. In Australia, there are 10 personal websites for every public website (90,000), according to Bloch.