Namecheap opposes domain name price increases

Namecheap is the first registrar that I see opposing the removal of price caps on several legacy top level domains such as .org, .info and .biz. (Also don’t forget .asia.) If you see any other registrars opposing these huge price increases please let me know.

Namecheap has emailed 200,000 of their .org, .biz and .info customers advising them of this threat!

Here is the Namecheap blog post:

Businesses want stability. They understand that domain prices increase over time but want predictability.

Imagine if next year you had to pay 10 times as much to renew your domain name as you paid this year. Based on an action proposed by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), price caps could be removed on several top level domains, which could significantly increase the price of domains.

Find out what’s happening—and how to take action to stop this change before April 29.

Who Sets Domain Prices?

There are three parties involved when you register a domain name.

One is your domain name registrar, such as Namecheap.

When you register a domain name at Namecheap, we have to reserve the domain name through the domain name registry.

Think of the registrar as a domain name retailer and the registry as the wholesaler.

The wholesale registry charges Namecheap a set fee per domain name per year. Namecheap then adds a little markup to cover things like support, provisioning domain services, transaction fees, etc.

There’s a lot of competition for domain name registrars. This keeps prices that companies like Namecheap charge in check.

Domain registries, on the other hand, have little competition. Only one registry can sell .org domains. The same goes for .info, .com, .net, etc.

A third group has historically kept the prices the registries charge Namecheap and other registrars in check. ICANN includes a provision in its contracts with registries that limits what they can charge.

Now ICANN has proposed removing all price restrictions on .org, .biz and .info domain names!

This could have a major impact on how much you pay to renew your domain names and register new ones.

Sky-high .Org Prices Could Be Coming

ICANN’s current contract with Public Interest Registry (PIR), the group that runs the .org domain name, lets PIR increase the wholesale price of .org domains by 10% a year.

That’s a lot, but at least it’s capped.

Now ICANN is proposing extending the contract to operate .org but letting PIR set whatever prices it wants. Rather than a 10% increase to renew your domain next year, it could suddenly start charging registrars like Namecheap 100 times as much. Registrars would have no choice but to pass these charges on to customers.

This means that the price for the domain name you’ve been using for over a decade could shoot up. The registry has to tell the registrar six months in advance, but then they are free to charge whatever they want. Switching domains is hard, so you will have little option but to pay the higher prices.

ICANN has also proposed lifting price caps on .info and .biz domain names.

ICANN’s Bad Justification

ICANN has an interesting justification for why it wants to remove price controls.

In 2012, ICANN started accepting applications to operate “new“ top level domains. Any company could apply to create alternatives to .com on the right of the dot. That’s where domains like .guru, .money and .xyz came from.

The contracts for these new domains are different than for older domains. ICANN didn’t impose any price restrictions on the new domains. After all, the companies that applied for the domains put their own money at risk.

ICANN believes that the contracts to run older TLDs like .org should be the same as those for running new top level domain names. This ignores the long history of these legacy top level domain names and how the contracts to run the registries were awarded. Whereas new top level domain companies risked their own money to introduce new domains, the registries running .org, .biz, etc. are merely stewards for what should be considered a resource that belongs to the web.

What Can You Do?

ICANN is asking the Internet community for input on its proposal to remove price caps. You can make your voice heard.

If you want to make sure ICANN doesn’t let legacy top level domain operators increase prices to infinity, now is the time to act. There are open comment periods for ICANN’s proposed new contracts, but you need to take action by April 29, 2019.

You can leave your comment on each proposal here:

Also, the Internet Commerce Association, a group that advocates on behalf of domain name owners, has created a simple form you can use to submit comments on the .org proposal. The form lets you select the concerns you have about the new .org proposal and easily submit them to ICANN.

Make your voice heard: tell ICANN to not remove its price limitations.


About Konstantinos Zournas

I studied Computer Engineering and Computer Science in London, UK and I am now living in Athens, Greece. I went online in 1995, started coding in 1996 and began buying domain names and creating websites in 2000. I started the blog in 2012.

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