The current Registry Agreement between ICANN and VeriSign, Inc. which was signed in May 2001 will expire on June 30, 2005. The agreement provides that ICANN, must adopt an open and transparent procedure for designating a "successor" Registry Operator. In June of this year the ICANN's Board adopted a procedure for the designation of a "successor" registry, which is currently underway. ICANN's Generic Names Supporting Organization, has adopted recommendations regarding criteria for ICANN in the selection of the "successor" .NET registry operator.
Those criteria have been submitted for public comment and ICANN has received extensive comments including comments from some of the potential .NET bidders, including the incumbent .NET registry operator, VeriSign. ICANN is seriously considering those comments with all due diligence and regard, and is obtaining professional and expert advice relating to how those comments might impact the final version of an RFP. Accordingly ICANN has extended the initially proposed deadline for issuance of an RFP to insure that the most appropriate RFP be issued. The overall timeline for the award of .NET to the incumbent VeriSign or to a "successor" has not been changed and a new agreement or transfer of the current registry will occur by the date of the registry contract expiration in June 2005.
ICANN is also seeking an independent third-party professional firm, (which will most likely be a well regarded global accountancy firm) to manage the .NET "Successor" Registry Operator Process. ICANN believes that this will best insure a fair and independent process and will avoid any perceptions of possible bias or impropriety on the part of ICANN. An announcement regarding the identity of the third-party firm will follow shortly.