Ethos Capital published a press release today with several announcements regarding the .Org registry and the commitments that company will make should its acquisition of PIR go through. In addition, the company announced that it agreed to extend ICANN’s review period to March 20th.
In response to feedback Ethos received from many different interest groups, I was told by an Ethos PR representative that Ethos will be “embedding its commitments on pricing, censorship and data use policies in a legally-binding contract between PIR and ICANN (called a “PIC”), which gives ICANN and the community the ability to enforce those commitments.”
Because ICANN removed price caps, one of the concerns was that the price of .org domain names could be increased considerably in the wake of this deal. One of the commitments in the PIC is related to the wholesale pricing of .org domain names:
“Affordability of .ORG Domain Names: Fees charged to registrars for initial or renewal registration of a .ORG domain name will not increase by more than 10% per year on average for eight years from the start of the current Registry Agreement, under a precise formula that does not permit front-loading of those price increases. Through this commitment, .ORG will become one of the only TLDs to have a price restriction and it will remain one of the most affordable domains in the world.”
I believe the wholesale cost of .org domain names is $9.93 right now. If the registry would increase rates by 10% each year, the wholesale cost would more than double over the eight year time period in the PIC. I would imagine stakeholders will also be concerned about what happens after after eight years which aren’t contractually capped via the PIC. That being said, since ICANN removed price caps for .org domain names, whatever entity that operates the .org registry could increase prices as it wishes.
In a tweet this morning, PIR announced a community discussion with PIR, Ethos, and Internet Society next Thursday, February 27th at 3pm Eastern. I am sure there will be ample discussion about these commitments:
Principals from PIR, Ethos and Internet Society will host a community discussion on Thursday, Feb 27 at 15:00 EST / 20:00 UTC to provide details about Ethos’ commitments. https://t.co/xGvD3cJbIf
— Public Interest Reg. (@PIRegistry) February 21, 2020