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Request for Proposal for Economic Study

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers ("ICANN") is seeking one or more provider(s) to conduct an economic study examining pricing trends and other competition indicators in the global domain name system (DNS) market. The selected provider(s) will design and execute an initial study to create a meaningful baseline of data on multiple factors of competition and will perform a follow-on study one year later, to generate and analyze a set of comparison data. ICANN is seeking one or more qualified providers to manage this complex exercise in a timely and efficient manner.

ICANN anticipates a contract to be signed and work to begin with the selected provider(s) no later than November 2014.

As part of ICANN's Affirmation of Commitments ("Affirmation"), ICANN has pledged to promote competition, consumer trust, and consumer choice. The Affirmation outlines ICANN's responsibilities to the global community of Internet users, who are all served by the DNS. The Affirmation focuses on three primary areas of accountability: (a) ensuring accountability, transparency and the interests of global Internet users; (b) preserving security, stability and resiliency of the DNS; and (c) promoting competition, consumer trust and consumer choice. Each of the focus areas includes regular reviews by the community to gauge ICANN's performance.

The economic study will capture some of the metrics proposed by ICANN's community to evaluate the impact of the New gTLD Program on competition, consumer choice and consumer trust. A multi-stakeholder review team, to be formed, will include the findings as it examines other measures of competition, such as survey findings on end users' perceived choice in the DNS, as well as the quantities of new gTLD operators, service providers, registrars, domain name registrations, and other metrics. The review may also provide recommendations to ICANN on additional initiatives that should be undertaken.

As the DNS serves a large ecosystem of registries, registry service operators, registrars and resellers, and domain name registrants, the study must be able to capture inputs in a representative manner from across the multitude of players relevant to marketplace practices.

For additional information and instructions for submitting responses please click here [ZIP, 799 KB].

Proposals should be submitted to economicstudy-rfp@icann.org by 23:59 UTC on 29 September 2014.


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Domain Name System
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."