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Public Comment: CRAI Report on gTLD Registries and Registrars

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ICANN has received a report today, issued by CRA International, titled “Revisiting Vertical Separation of Registries and Registrars” [PDF, 493K].

ICANN requested CRAI to perform economic research pursuant to two resolutions of the ICANN Board of Directors: 1) the 18 October 2006 resolution of ICANN's Board of Directors seeking more information relating to the registry and registrar marketplace; and, 2) the 26 June 2008 resolution of ICANN's Board, directing the development and completion of a detailed implementation plan for the new gTLD Policy.

CRAI's report makes certain recommendations regarding the relationship between registries and registrars. In particular, the CRAI report makes two proposals that might apply to the implementation of the new gTLD program.

First, CRAI proposes that, for single organization TLDs, that organization be permitted to operate both the registry and the registrar that sells second-level domain name subscriptions.

Second, CRAI proposes that a registry may own a registrar so long as the wholly-owned registrar does not sell second-level domain names subscriptions in the TLDs operated by the registrar.

ICANN would like to solicit public comment on these proposals, which if implemented, would have an immediate effect on applications under the new gTLD program.

Comments on the CRAI report are welcome via email to crai-report@icann.org. An archive of all comments received will be publicly posted at http://forum.icann.org/lists/crai-report/.

NOTE: CRA International (CRAI) is a highly respected economic consulting firm. ICANN asked CRAI to consider issues associated with certain competitive aspects at the registry and registrar level, including registry-registrar separation, for the purpose of helping guide the discussions related to the new TLD program.

CRAI does not speak for ICANN, and ICANN has not adopted this report. ICANN's Board, Management and Staff have not taken a position regarding this report. ICANN hopes that the community will benefit from the report and welcomes comments on the report.

Related Links:

Public comment period: http://www.icann.org/en/public-comment/public-comment-200812.html#crai

CRAI report: http://www.icann.org/en/topics/new-gtld-crai-report-24oct08-en.pdf [PDF, 439K]

New gTLD public comment page: http://www.icann.org/en/topics/new-gtld-comments-en.htm


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Internationalized Domain Name ,IDN,"IDNs are domain names that include characters used in the local representation of languages that are not written with the twenty-six letters of the basic Latin alphabet ""a-z"". An IDN can contain Latin letters with diacritical marks, as required by many European languages, or may consist of characters from non-Latin scripts such as Arabic or Chinese. Many languages also use other types of digits than the European ""0-9"". The basic Latin alphabet together with the European-Arabic digits are, for the purpose of domain names, termed ""ASCII characters"" (ASCII = American Standard Code for Information Interchange). These are also included in the broader range of ""Unicode characters"" that provides the basis for IDNs. The ""hostname rule"" requires that all domain names of the type under consideration here are stored in the DNS using only the ASCII characters listed above, with the one further addition of the hyphen ""-"". The Unicode form of an IDN therefore requires special encoding before it is entered into the DNS. The following terminology is used when distinguishing between these forms: A domain name consists of a series of ""labels"" (separated by ""dots""). The ASCII form of an IDN label is termed an ""A-label"". All operations defined in the DNS protocol use A-labels exclusively. The Unicode form, which a user expects to be displayed, is termed a ""U-label"". The difference may be illustrated with the Hindi word for ""test"" — परीका — appearing here as a U-label would (in the Devanagari script). A special form of ""ASCII compatible encoding"" (abbreviated ACE) is applied to this to produce the corresponding A-label: xn--11b5bs1di. A domain name that only includes ASCII letters, digits, and hyphens is termed an ""LDH label"". Although the definitions of A-labels and LDH-labels overlap, a name consisting exclusively of LDH labels, such as""icann.org"" is not an IDN."