LACTLD comments to ICANN’s call “Supporting the Domain Name Industry in Underserved Regions”

 LACTLD and regional ccTLDs are participating in the ICANN LAC strategy where similar discussions have taken place with respect to the enhancement of underserved communities such as the Latin American and Caribbean region.

Considering that this region represents 11% of global Internet users, the DNS sector in LAC has very few players. When the figures comprising ICANN accredited registrars emerges, barely 2% are in the region and a similar proportion of applications for the new gTLD program.

From a ccTLD perspective, the region with the highest ccTLD domain name penetration is Europe and the vast majority of the registries have applied the registry-registrar model. The need to maintain a diverse ecosystem within the DNS environment, creating more opportunities with local players that can address the needs of underserved communities is in line with the Affirmation of Commitments points 3 c. and d “(c) promote competition, consumer trust, and consumer choice in the DNS marketplace; and (d) facilitate international participation in DNS technical coordination”. The promotion of diversity of players and opportunities is at the core of the origins of ICANN. A two-sided market such as the domain name industry with a tendency to a “winner takes all” approach, undermines opportunities for emerging players in developing communities.

Commercial players such as registrars when based with the communities they serve could serve to promote awareness and  to enhance the value of domain names within the region. Although other challenges  could emerge for the region’s ccTLDs, including increasing competition, the fact that there are more players involved in the promotion of the DNS will serve to increase the visibility of this sector within the value chain of ccTLDs. Indirectly the benefits could also be perceived through isomorphism, when ccTLDs would be able to emulate registrar strategies (promotions, campaigns, systems) or the case might also be that it might also lead to expanding the registry-registrar model, which in many cases might improve efficiency.

Measures that could be introduced to encourage the emergence of new registrars in the Latin American and Caribbean region are the following:

  1. Analyse the financial barriers which are currently impeding the emergence of new players (for example, alternative insurance systems, and monthly payments (these last until a certain amount of domain names are achieved).
  2. Generate a more business oriented communication with the industry and emerging players that could be interested in the DNS in the region: the focus should not be on policy or development issues but on the commercial opportunities for these emerging players.
  3. Hands-on workshops on cities in the region to start up a registrar.
  4. Promote franchising initiatives of the large registrars which could be acquired by local businesspeople with proven business models.