Posted by Sudhakar
- May 14, 2009, 10:04 PM
A domain name registrar is a company, accredited by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) or by a national ccTLD authority, to register Internet domain names. These "retail" companies are often distinct from the "wholesale" domain name registry operator.
ICANN has authority over generic top-level domains, or gTLDs. Examples of gTLDs include .com, .net, .org and .mobi. ICANN does not have authority over ccTLDs, or Country Code Top-Level Domains, although it is quite common for domain name registrars to offer ccTLD registration services as well. Most registrars provide DNS hosting service, but this is not required, and is often considered a separate service.
Until 1999, Network Solutions (NSI) operated the .com, .net, and .org registries, and was the de jure registrar and domain name registry operator. However, several companies had set up as de facto registrars, including NetNames, which invented the idea of a commercial standalone domain name registration service in 1996. Registrars formed another link in the value chain, introducing the concept of domain name sales, effectively introducing the wholesale model into the industry. NSI followed suit, which ultimately led to the separation of Registry and Registrar.
In October 1998, following pressure from the growing domain name registration business and other interested parties, NSI's agreement with the US Department of Commerce was amended. This amendment required the creation of a shared registration system (SRS) that supported multiple registrars. This SRS officially opened on November 30, 1999 under the supervision of ICANN, though there had been several testbed registrars using the system since March 11, 1999. Since then, over 500 registrars have entered the market for domain name registration services.
An end-user cannot directly register and manage their domain name information with ICANN. A designated registrar must be chosen. Prior to 1999, the only .com registrar was NSI, but the approval of the SRS opened up the opportunity for other companies to be designated as registrars.
Each ICANN-accredited registrar must pay a fixed fee of US$4,000 plus a per-registrar variable fee totaling US$3.8 million divided among all registrars.
Only one designated registrar may modify or delete information about a domain name. The competition that the SRS created enables end users to choose from many registrars offering different services at varying prices. It is not unusual for an end user to wish to switch registrars. Such transfers are governed by specific domain name transfer policies.
When a registrar registers a .com domain name for the end-user, it must pay a maximum annual fee of US$6.86 to VeriSign and a US$0.20 administration fee to ICANN. VeriSign is the registry manager for .com gTLD. Most domain registrars price their services and products to address both the annual fees and the administration fees that must be paid to ICANN. Barriers to entry into the bulk registrar industry are high for new companies without an existing customer base.
An end-user registers either directly with a registrar, or indirectly through one or more layers of resellers. As of 2008, the cost generally ranges from a low of about $7.50 per year to about $35 per year. The maximum period of registration of a domain name is generally 10 years.
Some registrars are offering longer periods of up to one hundred years, but such offers involve the registrar renewing the registration for their customer. The one hundred year domain name registration would not be in the official registration database. Some packages of services, such as web hosting, include the domain registration in the total package pricing.
Domain name transfer
A Domain name transfer is the act of designating a new registrar with the authority to add, modify, and delete information about the domain name. The usual process of a domain name transfer is:
The end user verifies that the whois admin contact info is correct, particularly the email address; obtains the authentication code (EPP transfer code) from the old registrar, and removes any lock that has been placed on the registration.
The end user contacts the new registrar with the wish to transfer the domain name to their service, and supplies the authentication code.
The new registrar will contact the old registrar with this information.
The old registrar will contact the end user to confirm the authenticity of this request. The end user may have to take further action with the old registrar, such as returning to the online management tools, to re-iterate their desire to proceed, in order to expedite the transfer.
The old registrar will release authority to the new registrar.
The new registrar will notify the end user of transfer completion. The new registrar may have automatically copied over the domain server information, and everything on the website will continue to work as before. Otherwise, the domain server information will need to be updated with the new registrar.
After this process, the new registrar becomes the end user's designated registrar. The process may take about five days. In some cases, the old registrar may intentionally delay the transfer as long as allowable. After transfer, the domain cannot be transferred again for 60 days, except back to the previous registrar.
It is unwise to attempt to transfer a domain immediately before it expires. In some cases, a transfer can take up to 14 days, meaning that the transfer may not complete before the registration expires. This could result in loss of the domain name registration and failure of the transfer. To avoid this, end users should either transfer well before the expiration date, or renew the registration before attempting the transfer.
If a domain registration expires, no matter how or why, it can be difficult, expensive, or impossible for the original owner to get it back. After the expiration date, the domain status passes through several different phases, over a period of months; it does not simply become generally available.
With the introduction of SRS, many smaller registrars had to compete with each other. Some companies offered value added services or used viral marketing, while others, such as VeriSign and the Domain Registry of America attempted to trick customers to switch from their current registrar using a practice known as domain slamming.
Many of these transfer scams involve a notice sent in the mail, fax, or e-mail. Some scammers contacted end users by telephone (since the contact information is available through WHOIS) to obtain more information. These notices would include information publicly available from the WHOIS database to add to the look of authenticity. The text would include legalese to confuse the end user into thinking that it is an official binding notice. Scam registrars go after domain names that are expiring soon or have recently expired. Expired domain names do not have to go through the authentication process to be transferred, as the previous registrar would have relinquished management rights of the domain name. Domain name expiry dates are readily available via WHOIS.
A term used to refer to Domain Name Registrars who offer a service that will attempt to register a name for you as soon as it becomes available - that is, catching a dropped name - either because the current owner does not want the name any more, or because they have not renewed the name before it expires.