ICANN budget proposal would halve ccTLD fees

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) may temporarily halve the fees paid by country code top level domain (ccTLD) registries to encourage them to enter agreements with it.

ICANN needs to increase its income to cover the almost US$8 million it needs next year, according to its budget, released Saturday and corrected Monday. ICANN is the body that oversees Internet domain administration, IP address space allocation and root name server management internationally.

ICANN’s funding comes from generic top level domain (gTLD) registries and from those ccTLD registries with which is has an agreement, based on the number of domains registered within each top-level domain. It also receives contributions on a voluntary basis from other ccTLDs. Since relatively few ccTLD registries have agreements with ICANN, those that have pay a disproportionate amount, ICANN said. This then acts as a disincentive for others to enter agreements.

Country code top level domains include .uk (for the U.K.), .fr (for France) and .tv (for the tiny Pacific island nation of Tuvalu); generic top level domains include .net, .com, .org, .gov, .info and .biz. Other domains can be registered within these, such as idg.net or icann.org.

CcTLDs contain a growing percentage of registered domains, at 38.4 per cent as of Feb. 1, 2003, up from 32.1 per cent on Mar. 1, 2002, according to ICANN estimates. The ccTLD registries are therefore an important potential source of revenue for ICANN. In fiscal year 2003-2004, however, ICANN only expects to receive US$601,000 in voluntary contributions from the ccTLDs with which it doesn’t yet have an agreement. Based on the ccTLDs’ fair share of its costs, though, these registries should pay US$3.7 million, it said.

ICANN therefore proposes to halve the fee allocation per ccTLD, increasing the amount paid by gTLDs, in the hope of encouraging more to sign up, it said. The reduction would need to be reconsidered each year, it said.

ICANN is being renamed ICANN 2.0 and is expanding its remit, including the establishment of a pilot “Outreach Program” to developing countries. The outreach program aims to explain ICANN’s policies, procedures and benefits to developing Internet communities and governments, the report said. The organization is also trying to improve the way it receives public comment on its activities and is putting together ombudsman and independent review programs to help resolve domain disputes. ICANN plans to hire a further 15 to 17 staff; six to reach its fiscal year 2002-2003 agreed level of 27 staff and nine to 11 more for the 2003-2004 year, it said in its preliminary budget announcement.

Base expenditure is expected to rise US$2.3 million to US$7.6 million for the year. US$1.1 million of that is for new members of staff, and US$1.5 million in additional costs for the transition to ICANN 2.0, the budget said.