Was I Fooled?
Friday, April 30, 1999 by Dave Winer.
Dave, you've been fooled. Those companies are not competing with NSI. Those companies are competing to *send business* to NSI. The actual domain service will be provided by NSI. They cannot make NSI's service any better than the screwup you experienced this week; they can only make it worse.
Under this scheme, the companies will handle the billing, but pay NSI $9 per year to provide the back-end database. From personal experience with CORE, which built one and operated it for months, I know the back-end database can be provided for well under $1-per-domain-per-year. NSI may make more money on the $9 domains than they do on the $35 domains, since billing costs probably eat a good chunk of the $35.
Real competition that would improve your service and/or make NSI accountable (you could take your business elsewhere) would involve either, whole new domains other than .com, which NSI would have no role at all in administering; or a shared process to create the .com domain database daily, which would not place NSI at the center of that process.
I hear that ICANN is working their way toward something like this (probably the first sooner than the second), but it's a very slow process. And they're likely to make a few more misleading announcements that "real competition has arrived" long before it actually does.
I held Gilmore's response, waiting for agreement or disagreement, and a few minutes ago John Brewer posted this message:
Gilmore also cc'd his response to Esther Dyson, the chairman of ICANN, it'll be interesting to hear her comments.
One thing I neglected to mention -- just as the problem sneaks up, it takes a while for the fix to get out. Most people can get thru to userland.com now. The remaining problems will probably fix themselves over the next few days, as NSI's fix percolates out thru the domain name system.