Despite charges that the US government is allowing Network Solutions Inc. (NSI) to keep its hold on top-level Internet domain name registration, the company's chief insists that NSI's continued participation ensures a more orderly transition and will "pave the way for explosive commercial growth of the Internet."
NSI and the government this week announced an amendment to an existing contract that allows NSI to share registration of top-level Internet domains with other companies, starting March 31 of next year. The shared registration system is to be fully implemented by June 1 of next year.
In the meantime, NSI also is charged under the contract extension with providing specifications for the shared system, a schedule for development and implementation and the creation of a technical advisory team consisting of up to 10 people designated by a new company that will take over the process. The company, referred to in the NSI contract as "NewCo," is supposed to have global representation and has yet to be formed.
NSI is a for-profit company founded in 1979. The company has registered more than 2.3 million domain names as part of a five-year contract with the U.S. government. That deal was to have expired this week, but was extended so that NSI and the U.S. Department of Commerce could forge a new contract that covers the phase-in period.
Critics have argued that the government is allowing NSI to monopolise the process. The business has had the exclusive contract for the registry process, which is supposed to become competitive as the government relinquishes control.
"There is no NewCo today and the Internet has to continue to operate," NSI Chief Executive Officer Gabriel Battista said at a press conference regarding the contract extension and his company's continued participation in the transition from government to private control of domain names.
The US government is overseeing the drafting of a proposal that will establish both NewCo and the framework for management of top-level Internet domains, removing those duties from federal auspices.
NSI will stay in its role as registry, or wholesaler, of registrations in the .com, .net and .org domains, under the agreement, which had been expected as the registration process shifts out of U.S. government control.
NSI handles the registrations, but the non-profit Internet Assigned Names Authority (IANA) takes care of managing the domains. A white paper released by the US government in June asks IANA and the Internet community to reach a consensus regarding the new group that will manage top-level domains. That consensus was to have been reached by Sept. 1, but discussions are still ongoing.
The IANA has released five draft proposals on the matter and is scheduled to testify today before the US House Science Committee regarding its suggestions for domain-name maintenance.