News and Updates

SpaceX Starlink Is on a Roll

Domain industry news - Sat, 2020-10-24 19:34

Why Elon is smiling… captured from an interview during the virtual convention of the Mars Society, Oct 16, 2020.

This is an impressive list of achievements, but bear in mind that we are still in the early days of a yet-unproven technology and market in a complex geopolitical environment.

The last two months have seen a flurry of Starlink activity, including the following:

Bill Gates has a history of interest in satellite Internet and in September, Microsoft announced their Azure Obrital ground station service, which enables satellite access to its Azure cloud services. SES, Viasat, and Intelsat were announced as initial partners and SpaceX just signed up. Starlink+Azure Orbital will compete with Amazon's satellite constellation and its ground-station service. (For more on Azure Orbital, check out this podcast interview and transcript of product manager Nora Zhan).

SpaceX did some good and got good publicity by providing seven user terminals to the Washington State Emergency Management Division for deployment in at least one region hit hard by summer wildfires. Richard Hall, the emergency telecommunications leader of the Washington State Military Department's IT division, said he had "never set up any tactical satellite equipment that has been as quick to set up, and anywhere near as reliable" as Starlink.

This month, SpaceX provided connectivity to the Hoh Indian tribe west of Seattle. I don't know how many terminals were provided or the speed and latency of the service, but the response and publicity have been positive.

SpaceX has been running beta tests in the US at latitudes between 44 and 52 degrees north. SpaceX reported that it has observed a median latency of approximately 30 ms and a 95th percentile latency of 42 ms in over a million observations.

The FCC will award up to $16 billion over ten years to support fixed broadband service in unserved rural areas. They were initially skeptical of satellite service providers, saying they had not proved that they could meet the low-latency requirement under 100ms bidding tier. However, this month, after considering beta test results, the FCC invited SpaceX to bid in the rural broadband funding auction.

After receiving over 700,000 expressions of interest from all 50 states, SpaceX requested an increase in the number of authorized user terminals from one million to five million. They also announced that they are able to manufacture 120 satellites per month, keeping up with their target launch rate.

The capital cities of 17 relatively affluent European nations fall between 44 and 52 degrees north and SpaceX has applied for 3 internet gateway ground stations in France and is said to be looking for roof space on European datacenter roofs.

While the current beta test is in the US, several European capitals are between 44 and 52 degrees north, and SpaceX is able to serve them as well as the northern US.

SpaceX has begun the process of being able to offer service in Canada, but the final approval will not be considered for around 130 days.

SpaceX has registered 14 shell companies in 13 foreign nations (click here and enter entity number 10143028). I checked the street address of one, and it seems to be a postal box rather than an office, but I have been assured that establishing shell companies is common practice. Eight of them are named "TIBRO" (orbit spelled backward), so I assume they are at an earlier development stage than the others.

SpaceX successfully tested a laser link between two satellites, but, as far as I know, did not reveal details like transmission rate or time to establish a connection. I assume that the links were between two satellites in the same plane. (They initially planned five lasers per satellite and are now committed to having four — forward and backward in the same plane and two others linking to adjacent planes).

In an interview at the Mars Society Convention, Elon Musk spelled out a timetable for an unmanned Mars landing that included high volume Starship flights, each capable of launching up to 400 Starlink satellites, in 2022.

Perhaps as a result of the above, Morgan Stanley just raised its valuation of SpaceX from $52 billion in July to over $100 billion and speculated that it might be as high as $200 billion.

The above is an impressive list of achievements, but bear in mind that we are still in the early days of a yet-unproven technology and market in a complex geopolitical environment. Furthermore, we lack the sort of regulation and harmonization that has evolved over the years to govern the seas, and global problems like space debris and collision avoidance remain unsolved.

Written by Larry Press, Professor of Information Systems at California State University

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More under: Access Providers, Broadband, Mobile Internet, Wireless

Categories: News and Updates

The Good Old Days in the Cryptography Wars

Domain industry news - Sat, 2020-10-24 18:25

Colossus, the world's first electronic computer used to help decipher the Lorenz-encrypted (Tunny) messages between Hitler and his generals during World War II. (Photo: John Levine)

The 20th century was the golden age of surveillance.

High-speed communication went either by telegraph and telephone, which needed a license from the government, or by radio, which anyone can listen to. Codes were manual or electromechanical and were breakable, e.g., the Zimmermann telegram and Bletchley Park. (The UK government spent far more effort inventing a cover story for the source of the telegram than on the break itself, to avoid telling the world how thoroughly they were spying on everyone.) The few secure one-time pads were either so expensive they could only be used for a handful of the most important messages (SIGSALY) or so cumbersome they weren't used correctly and broken anyway (Venona.)

Historically, that was a very strange time for cryptography and espionage, but it's what politicians and law enforcement remember as the good old days, and think that it was normal to be able to spy on anyone, anywhere.

That was then. Now we have computers and better algorithms, so any $10 burner phone can do crypto that nobody can break. The algorithms and software are available all over the world. The genie isn't going back into the bottle, no matter how hard some parties demand that we push.

Written by John Levine, Author, Consultant & Speaker

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More under: Cybersecurity, Internet Governance, Privacy

Categories: News and Updates

NamesCon opens registration for January virtual event

Domain Name Wire - Fri, 2020-10-23 16:13

Early bird tickets are now available for online event.

Registration is now open for NamesCon Online 2021.

The virtual event will take place January 27-29, 2021. This is about the same time that the in-person event was scheduled. Like many events, the raging pandemic has pushed the event online.

NamesCon held a virtual event in September that received generally high marks. Some of the benefits of virtual events vs. in-person events are that they are cheaper to attend, it’s easier to visit the sessions, and networking can be more fruitful.

Early bird registration through November 30 is $59, at which point the price will increase to $79.

NamesCon is also accepting session pitches for the event.

Post link: NamesCon opens registration for January virtual event

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Categories: News and Updates

What is a four-initial (4i) domain?

Domain Name Wire - Fri, 2020-10-23 13:01

You call them Chips. The Chinese call them…

In my last article, I gave an overview of Benmi, a site that aggregates domain sales data from Chinese marketplaces.

When you visit the site, you may see the term “Four initial COM domain,” as shown in the image below. So, what is a four-initial domain?

In the west, domain investors are familiar with 4L (four-letter) domains. A 4L domain consists of 4 letters taken from the alphabet a to z. Any of the 26 letters can be used. Some examples are DNWE.com and Epik.com.

In China, there is a subcategory within 4L domains called four-initial domains. For simplicity, I just call them 4i domains. These domains can use only 20 letters among the 26 alphabets; the letters excluded are a, e, i, o, u, v.

Such domains are more commonly known in the west as Chip domains for “Chinese Premium”. (The term “chip” was originally invented to refer to 4L domains only, but later was expanded by some investors to include other types such as three letter and even numeric domains.)

In other words, 4i domains are 4L chip domains. They are used as acronyms for Pinyin words. Aeiouv are generally not favored by Chinese investors because of their limited or even impossible use to represent Pinyin words. See “What is special about Chip domains?” for a more detailed discussion.

So, next time you come across “four-initial domains” in Chinese media, just remember Chip.

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Categories: News and Updates

PayPal drops Epik, sparking registrar to cry it is being “deplatformed”

Domain Name Wire - Thu, 2020-10-22 21:36

PayPal apparently inquired about flows of money through the registrar before terminating services; domain name registrar with controversial customers says it is being deplatformed.

PayPal has discontinued providing services to domain name registrar Epik.

It’s not entirely clear what happened, but Epik has commented on the decision in multi-page letters to PayPal employees, the CEO of PayPal, and a reporter for Bloomberg who apparently asked the company about some of the sites that use its services.

The letters from Epik SVP of Strategy and Communications Rob Davis noted that PayPal informed it:

“PayPal has determined that we will no longer provide our services to you due to service risk. A business decision has been made to no longer process transactions on your behalf…”

PayPal did not allow it to appeal.

Further explanation in the letters suggests that PayPal inquired about the provenance of some of the money flowing through Epik. In a letter to PayPal’s CEO, Davis wrote:

This is before we even address what looks like the intentional and inaccurate classification of our proven business model as a domain registrar, as a possible money laundering operation invoking compartmentalized handling procedures for convenient cover related to the Patriot Act…

Davis mentions that PayPal inquired about offshore numbered accounts, money transmission licenses, Patriot Act certificates, AML, external process flows, and other queries related to cross‐border activities and law enforcement. He called these questions “absolutely absurd, and well outside of any knowledge or experience we have as a domain registrar.”

Epik believes PayPal’s action is actually an attempt to “deplatform” the registrar, which is known for catering to fringe and far-right groups. Among its customers are Gab.com, which came under fire after the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, and Alex Jones’ InfoWars, a conspiracy theory site.

In an open letter to PayPal employees, Davis wrote:

It would appear that in a direct effort to silence conservative voices, PayPal has terminated our payment services ‐ just two weeks before a Presidential election. While the concept of technology firms targeting conservative‐owned companies to deplatform, demonetize, and deindex users is not unknown to us, the degree of tyranny and oppression that this particular action represents cannot go unaddressed by the American people. The fact that PayPal would initiate these steps at the exact time major technology firms are being exposed for censorship and being called to Congress is beyond rational thinking. It is like key executives are going out of their way to subject your company to the type of scrutiny that changes organizations forever.

…. With more than 100,000 customers and approximately two million domain names under management, many of our clients also represent leading conservative voices, who together can achieve and influence hundreds of millions of unique visitors each and every month. In the wake of damning evidence about Hunter Biden that threatens to expose elements of the DNC for being overtly anti‐American, PayPal has now seemingly moved into an aggressive phase of delivering brutal consequences for those who stand for truth.

Epik also links to a story about PayPal accidentally asking some sellers for additional information related to their accounts. PayPal said it was a technical error, but Epik links to it by suggesting that the glitch was really a cover for deplatforming.

The registrar also published contact information for many PayPal and GoDaddy executives.

Update: Mashable reports that PayPal confirmed it was confirmed about financial risk. A source told it the issue is with Epik’s “Masterbucks” currency.

Post link: PayPal drops Epik, sparking registrar to cry it is being “deplatformed”

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Categories: News and Updates

Verisign reports earnings, 10.9 million new .com/.net registrations

Domain Name Wire - Thu, 2020-10-22 20:29

Versign reports earnings, including a strong quarter for new registrations.

Verisign (NASDAQ: VRSN), the domain name registry for .com and .net domain names, announced third quarter earnings after the market closed today.

Revenue was up 3.1% year-over-year to $318 million. The company’s topline generally moves slowly but should spike next year as it implements a 7% price hike on .com domain names.

Profit increased from $154 million in Q3 2019 to $171 million in Q3 2020, aided by a $24 million income tax benefit. This suggests that profit would have actually decreased without the tax benefit. It will be interesting to see the P&L when it’s published.

The quarter ended with 163.7 million .com and .net domain names under management, up 4% year-over-year, and up by 1.65 million domains quarter-over-quarter. 10.9 million new domains were registered in .com and .net during the quarter. That’s a million more than were registered in Q3 2019.

The total base of .com domain names eclipsed 150 million last month.

Post link: Verisign reports earnings, 10.9 million new .com/.net registrations

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Domain Community Invited to Submit Nominations for ICA's 2021 Lonnie Borck Memorial Award

DN Journal - Thu, 2020-10-22 18:19
The 5th annual Lonnie Borck Memorial Award will honor a person who has helped foster a sense of community within the domain name industry.
Categories: News and Updates

This week’s end user domain name sales

Domain Name Wire - Thu, 2020-10-22 15:45

A tattoo ink provider, a law firm, and a Canadian cleaning products company bought domain names.

This week’s end user report is a bit shorter than last week’s long one. Here’s the list of end user domain name sales that just completed at Sedo. You can view previous lists like this here.

ScentCheck.com $5,995 – Taylor Technology Services, a printing company, bought this domain. It’s not clear what it will be for. They produce an assortment of what they refer to as “business identity products” like business cards, stationery, envelopes, presentation folders, custom stamps and more.

QTY.co $5,500 – Cosmic Shovel, a web development company that runs Amazon price tracker camelcamelcamel.

IronRoad .com $5,000 – Depot Drug, a mail-order pharmacy, is affiliated with the health insurer Iron Road Healthcare.

Gaer.it €3,660 – Gaer Società Cooperativa is an Italian electronics retailer.

BigData.info $3,300 – Forwards to BigData.it, the site for an Italian marketing company.

Slimbook.com €3,000 – The buyer appears to be a computer maker called Tuxedo Computers.

Fundamental.in $3,000 – An Indian company, Fundamental Electronics PVT LTD, bought this domain. It manufactures electronic components.

CasinoMentor .com €3,000 – This website links to online gambling services.

MiniFabrik.com €3,000 – Forwards to Nobilia.de, the website for a European kitchen manufacturer. I can’t find any connection between this brand and the company, but fabrik is German for factory.

VikingInk.com $2,800 – Maimi Paint Sociedad Limitada bought this domain. This Spanish company appears to operate the tattoo ink brand Viking Ink.

GL.law $2,700 – Gregg Latchams Solicitors forwards this domain to its website at gregglatchams.com.

SW.dev $2,250 – Developer Daniel Green forwards this domain to Daniel.Green. He is associated with Comic Shovel (see QTY.co sale).

Optimax.ca $2,200 – Optimax is a Canadian maker of cleaning and sanitary products.

Nutreno.com $2,065 – Nutreno bills itself as “The Netflix of training”, offering unlimited streaming of physical fitness content.

F-Pay.com $2,000 – The buyer is affiliated with Fast Payment, a payment services company licensed by the Morrocoo central bank.

 

Post link: This week’s end user domain name sales

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Categories: News and Updates

How can we make domain marketplace inventory more accurate?

Domain Name Wire - Thu, 2020-10-22 14:07

Marketplaces can help sellers keep their inventory fresh.

Yesterday, Jamie Zoch posted on twitter about how poor the accuracy of inventory at domain name marketplaces is:

The accuracy of inventory at domain name aftermarket platforms is absurdly inaccurate. Most would be better erasing databases and starting over with a process that is required to follow in order to be listed/verified.

— Jamie Zoch (@DotWeekly) October 21, 2020

I agree with Jamie that this is a big issue. It’s a bad feeling when you think you’ve bought a domain on a marketplace, only to find out that the person who listed it no longer owns it.

I’m guilty of being part of the problem. I don’t immediately remove my domains from all marketplaces when I sell them (although I do verify ownership before responding to a sales inquiry).

Marketplaces can help domain sellers keep their inventory accurate, thus keeping the marketplace accurate. Here are some ideas:

1. Use a verification system – AfternicDLS has a system that recognizes if a domain has been unlocked or is being transferred so that it can remove them from the distributed network. Could this be applied industry-wide? I know it isn’t easy with GDPR, but whatever they have seems to work for domains that are opted into Fast Transfer.

2. Integrate with registrars – The best way to confirm ownership in a world without full Whois is to integrate with registrars to confirm the domain is registered in the seller’s account. It would be helpful to have integrations that would automatically remove domains from marketplaces when ownership transfers or the registration lapses.

3. Make it easier to update inventory – Marketplaces should offer a downloadable spreadsheet that lists the domains in your marketplace account and their data — what’s in Whois, nameservers, registrar name, etc. This will help sellers identify anomalies to discover which domains they no longer own. Marketplaces also need to make it easy to delete these domains.

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Categories: News and Updates

Nominations now open for ICA’s 2021 Lonnie Borck Memorial Award

Domain Name Wire - Thu, 2020-10-22 13:38

Nominate someone to be the fifth recipient of the Lonnie Borck Memorial Award.

Lonnie Borck

Internet Commerce Association (ICA) is now accepting nominations for the 2021 Lonnie Borck Memorial Award.

The award is named after the late domain name investor Lonnie Borck and is given to someone whose contributions have fostered a sense of community within the domain name industry.

Nominations are open to anyone — neither the nominator nor the nominee need to be an ICA member. ICA’s membership will vote for the final three nominees, and the organizations’ board will select the winner.

The winner will be announced during NamesCon Online held in January.

Internet Commerce Association is a trade organization that represents the interests of domain name owners and investors.

Post link: Nominations now open for ICA’s 2021 Lonnie Borck Memorial Award

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Categories: News and Updates

2020 Hindsight After 20 Years at ICANN

Domain industry news - Thu, 2020-10-22 03:19

After two decades of involvement with ICANN, I am stepping down from the Board of Directors, where I served for nine years.

I have spent considerable time of late reflecting on the past 20 years, and I have isolated some memories that help frame my time with ICANN.

  • November 2000, ICANN07 in Marina del Rey, California — With only a scant idea of what ICANN is all about, I am warmly welcomed by the flag-wearing country code top-level domain (ccTLD) community, who come to ICANN to ensure that nothing happens to affect the independence of ccTLDs.
  • June 2003, ICANN17 in Montreal — I am locked in a hotel basement with colleagues negotiating the formation of the Country Code Name Supporting Organization (ccNSO), which finally gets a nod of acceptance from the majority of the ccTLDs at the meeting.
  • March 2004, ICANN19 in Rome — CRISIS! The hotel bar has run out of red wine! Me: What, really? Bartender: Yes, we have no more. Me: But that's impossible. Bartender: No, it isn't, you guys drank it all, and we don't have a delivery for two days. Me: How could you let that happen — you seriously have none? Bartender: Well, we do have some Spanish. 'Problema resuelto, crisis evitada'!
  • July 2004, ICANN20 in Kuala Lumpur — Finally, four ccTLDs from each region have agreed to join the ccNSO. We form our first Council and hold our first meeting. I am elected Chair.
  • December 2004, ICANN21 in Cape Town — So here I am, waist deep in water in a canal in South Africa, searching for my sparkly new Motorola Razr phone. Minutes earlier, it had mysteriously leapt from my hand and landed in the canal, so I, of course, went after it. After 10 minutes, I come to my senses, get out of the canal and go buy a new phone.
  • July 2005, ICANN25 in Luxembourg — There is a sit-down gala for 500 people; 650 turn up. Board Chair Vint Cerf is refused entry, but rescued at the last minute and escorted in. Entertainment is courtesy of "The World's Strongest Man." He tears up phone books. He bends metal pipes. He lifts up ICANN staff members using his teeth. Bizarre — I am definitely not at the symphony.
  • June 2007, Asia Pacific Top Level Domain Name (APTLD) meeting in Dubai — Theresa Swinehart, Jānis Karklins, and I are overwhelmed by the passion for Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs). A ccNSO Policy Development Process (PDP) will take too long, so the IDN Fast Track is born.
  • November 2008, ICANN33 in Cairo — The hotel agrees to keep the bar open all night so we can watch the U.S. election. What an atmosphere! What emotions! What a mistake to go to bed at 04:30 clutching a bar of chocolate! What a mess!
  • October 2009, ICANN36 in Seoul — A guitarist? To open the meeting? Really? That's a first. The Board approves the ccTLD IDN Fast Track. Cheers and tears from everyone in the room. We did it! We made the Internet more accessible to millions.
  • March 2010, ICANN37 in Nairobi — A prayer session? To open the meeting? Yet another first. Prayers, power cuts, brass bands, war criminals… Ask me later; it is a long story — but a good one.
  • October 2011, ICANN42 in Dakar — Welcome to the ICANN Board. Please take this little red pill.
  • 2012-2013 — New gTLDs… New gTLDs… New gTLDs...
  • March 2014, ICANN49 in Singapore — Following the U.S. government's announced desire to sever its last thread of control over ICANN, we spring into action to create the circumstances that will allow ICANN 3.0 to bloom. Has it really been 12 years since we began work on ICANN 2.0?
  • 1 October 2016 — Phew! Success! We've done the Community Working Group, the Cross Community Working Group, the new ByLaws, and now, the contract with the U.S. government has officially expired. We can all relax. Except there's Workstream 2 and the next round of new gTLDs and a heap of post-transition reviews that need to happen. And this GDPR thing. Ah well!
  • June 2018, ICANN62 in Panama City — The World Cup is on in Moscow. England plays Panama. It is Panama's World Cup debut. Kick off is at 07:00, but the excitement begins to rise around 04:00. The bars and cafes are open. Everyone is out. Panama scores their first World Cup goal, and it is joy unconfined. Panama loses 6-1, but that is not the point.
  • 22 October 2020, ICANN69 in Virtual Hamburg — My last day on the ICANN Board.

Memories of events are important. But it's the people that really matter. The debates, the disagreements, the compromises, the consensus-building, the stares of disbelief, the gritted teeth, the laughter and the coming together at the end of the day to relax. It's all about the people.

For me, this community of volunteers and especially, most especially, this team of ICANN staff, are what have made the last 20 years such a fun, challenging, and glorious journey. It has been a remarkable trip.

Written by Chris Disspain, ICANN Board Member, 2011-2020

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More under: DNS, Domain Names, ICANN, Internet Governance, New TLDs

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Woman says she got a raw deal in Wines.com sale

Domain Name Wire - Wed, 2020-10-21 21:24

Woman who registered wines.com in 1994 believes an Atlanta company didn’t uphold its end of a deal to develop the domain.

An elderly California woman alleges that she was tricked into relinquishing Wines.com at a below-market price as part of a revenue share agreement, only to have the domain sold a year later without further upside.

Jacklyn Wilferd of California filed a lawsuit (pdf) in U.S. District Court in Georgia against Digital Equity, LLC and Khuram Dhanani, an Atlanta-area entrepreneur.

Wilferd acquired Wines.com in 1994. She says she was introduced to Dhanani in 2018 as a potential person to help further develop Wines.com as a business.

She alleges that, at various times, Dhanani told her verbally that he would invest $200,000-$300,000 of his own money developing the domain, that he already had an interested company
willing to pay $200,000 for advertising on the website, and that Wilferd would receive $100,000 within thirty days.

The parties signed two agreements: one in which Wilferd assigned the domain Wines.com to Dhanani’s company Digital Equity for $50,000, and a second profit-sharing agreement in which Wilferd would get 50% of net profits.

Wines.com did not end up being a success as a website. In the lawsuit, Wilferd claims that some of the content published on the site was explicit in nature and even included Wilferd’s name as the author.

She looked further into Dhanani’s background and alleges that “virtually everything about Dhanani was and is a fraud”.

In addition to several articles and blog posts about Dhanani’s success that Wilferd calls into question, she says that Dhanani’s appearance on the London Digital Podcast appears to be dubious in nature:

To be sure, this was not the first time that Dhanani had used either fictional or actual foreign contractors to create content for himself, as he did with the blogs at issue here. Upon information and belief, Dhanani created the YouTube.com video “Khuram Dhanani and Chelsea Banks on the London Digital Podcast,” available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FGxPWAFvqN8, manufacturing a fictional female with a British accent, “Chelsea Banks,” whose voice in the video is simply a computer-generated voice that Dhanani created or used. The YouTube.com user “Chelsea Banks” has only one video, and has not conducted any interviews with any other person—only the one created by Dhanani. And throughout the purported “interview,” “Chelsea Banks” merely voices questions, with pauses where Dhanani’s name is obviously inserted.

More compelling, the image Dhanani used for “Chelsea Banks” is (if one simply takes a screen shot and conducts a Google image search) a stock photograph, available for purchase on GettyImages.com, which appears on literally hundreds of websites…

Hostgator Founder Brent Oxley bought Wines.com last year. (Oxley no longer owns the domain.)

According to Wilferd’s lawsuit, after selling the domain name, Dhanani’s Twitter feed showed him taking trips to Miami and Las Vegas, eating at expensive restaurants, and staying at expensive hotel suites, like The Diplomat Beach Resort Hollywood. He subsequently made his Twitter feed private.

Wilferd states that Dhanani told her the sale price for Wines.com was $200,000. The domain had been marketed for sale for $1.2 million.

Regardless of the sale price, Wilferd says she didn’t get any of the money from the sale.

In a motion to dismiss (pdf) the lawsuit, the defendants argue that the agreement didn’t state that Wilferd would receive proceeds from a sale of the domain name:

The “Profit Sharing Agreement” (“PS Agreement”) was an arrangement between Plaintiff and Digital that entitled Plaintiff to fifty percent of net profits after expenses generated by Digital on revenue derived from an enumerated list of seven specific items. (Id.) Significant for this case, the subsequent sale of the Domain Name is not one of the seven specific items.

The motion to dismiss also states that the contract’s merger clause (that the written agreement is the full agreement) would bar any claims made on the alleged oral agreements.

I reached out to Dhanani for a comment about the case. I received a statement from Dhanani’s lawyer, Paul R. Barsness, stating:

I represent Digital Equity. I heard that you were writing a story about the wines.com lawsuit. I am tied up, but wanted to make sure you were aware of the pending motion to dismiss. This is a completely frivolous case of seller’s remorse, filled with fictional stories and falsehoods, for the sole purpose of extracting more money from my client. The case has no merits whatsoever and we are highly confident it will be dismissed soon.

The court is currently considering the motion to dismiss.

Post link: Woman says she got a raw deal in Wines.com sale

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NameJet makes it easier to start private party domain auctions

Domain Name Wire - Wed, 2020-10-21 15:49

Listings can be activated from within Network Solutions.

NameJet and its sister company Network Solutions have made it easier to list domain names for sale on NameJet and SnapNames.

The previous process was manual and many domain sellers complained that it played to favorites because not everyone was able to sell their domains through auctions. Now there’s a seller dashboard on Network Solutions that lets anyone list domains for sale on NameJet and SnapNames.

Sellers can start an auction (with or without reserve) or list domains with “buy now” prices starting at $69.

NameJet sent an email this morning about the new feature. A video shows a simple interface to list domains.

Unfortunately, when I logged in to Network Solutions to test the system, the link to sell domains wasn’t there. It’s possible that this is because I don’t currently have domains at the registrar, although the video suggests that domains don’t have to be at Network Solutions in order to sell.

Post link: NameJet makes it easier to start private party domain auctions

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Categories: News and Updates

Verisign gets another neural network name suggestion patent

Domain Name Wire - Wed, 2020-10-21 14:03

Domain suggestions are outside of the box.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has granted patent number 10,812,449 (pdf) to Verisign (NASDAQ: VRSN) for Method for generating a domain name using a learned information-rich latent space.

It describes several technical ways to suggest domain names to people based on a seed domain. This includes neural networks, adding Gaussian noise, and vector representations.

If you don’t know what all of this means, join the club. But the patent summarizes why this is better than name suggestion engines available today:

Disclosed embodiments provide many technical advantages over the prior art, including over word-based and character-based language model techniques. Various embodiments disclosed herein generate domain names at a character level and not bounded by a word dictionary. Moreover, the present application can provide for a more fine-grained control over the generated domain names (e.g. ability to generate a domain similar to one or several other domains, to control what kind of features are varied (e.g., syntax, length, semantics), to control how much a domain should be varied, the ability to blend multiple domains together, etc.). Further, the present application can provide a more focused domain name generation technique based on an individual’s needs and interests than those that are selected or generated by other techniques. Some embodiments have the ability to capture deep contextual relationships at the character-level. These and other advantages are disclosed herein. Various technical improvements include, but are not limited to, making use of a learned information-rich latent space, learn by a variational autoencoder, that provides ways to generate more targeted domain name suggestions, one of which the user is likely to select early in the process. This technique is a technological improvement over prior art domain name generators in that it creates and suggests domain names that are targeted and customized and more relevant for the particular user, which allows a user to find and register a satisfactory domain name more quickly, which reduces bandwidth usage, processor usage, storage, and wasted user time.

Some of the examples show how this patent goes beyond just combining prefixes and suffixes with keywords:

The method of FIG. 6 may be applied to generate new domain names that are syntactically and/or semantically similar to the seed domain name. FIG. 8 shows three examples for varying a seed domain name 800, according to the technique of FIG. 6 and other embodiments of the present disclosure. For a seed domain name “OrganicFood” 802, the model can produce the following similar domain names: OrganicShop, Organic-Shop, Organics, OrganicBox, HealthyBoy, OrganicalLab, Organicon, OrganicFoodTruck OrganicFoodBag, OrganicSoup, Organi, Organis, and OnlineSpoon. For the seed domain name “RealEstate” 804, the model can produce the following similar domain names: RealEstateAgents, RealEstateAgency, RentAlert, RealEstateAgentsInc, Realest, EventSales, VendingMan, Realities, RebelSales, LearnToBeARealEstateAgent, RealEstateBusiness, and RealEstateAgentServices. For the seed domain name “Verisign” 806, the model can produce the following similar domain names: Verifix, Verifixx, Verifica, Verific, Vericina, Verification, Verifications, MegaFire, MegaFiles, MegaCall, MegaSign, MegaFacil, Verifient, DataBill, WaveSign, and IdStudio. As noted with respect to FIG. 7, the system may produce these outputs or results because they are nearby in vector space from the vector representing the input seed name.

Last month, Verisign got another patent related to using machine learning for name suggestions.

Verisign applied for the newest patent in September 2018 and it was granted yesterday.

Post link: Verisign gets another neural network name suggestion patent

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Categories: News and Updates

LoanDepot.com files lawsuit against alleged cybersquatter

Domain Name Wire - Wed, 2020-10-21 12:46

Company has already won two UDRPs against the defendant.

What do you do after winning two UDRPs against a cybersquatter, but the cybersquatter continues to register infringing domains?

That’s the challenge LoanDepot.com is facing. It has decided to take the matter to court.

The company filed a lawsuit (pdf) in California against Moirangthem Birbanta, a man residing in India.

According to LoanDepot.com, the man uses domain names similar to LoanDepot.com to dupe people into a loan scam. The scam asks people seeking loans to load money onto gift cards in order to receive their loan.

LoanDepot.com won two UDRPs against Birbanta so far this year. Of course, there are no penalties for losing a UDRP. So it is upping the ante through the lawsuit.

It seems that the biggest challenge may be getting jurisdiction over the defendant.

Post link: LoanDepot.com files lawsuit against alleged cybersquatter

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Categories: News and Updates

Latest Liquid Domains Market Report from GGRG.com Shows Jump in Both Public & Private Sales

DN Journal - Tue, 2020-10-20 22:06
Short .com "liquid domains" experienced a nice sales increase in 3Q-2020 - especially those sold through private channels.
Categories: News and Updates

Apple Buys Into 5G

Domain industry news - Tue, 2020-10-20 21:54

Apple CEO Tim Cook introducing the new 5G iPhone 12 series. (Photograph: Brooks Kraft / Apple)

Apple is coming out with a full range of new 5G iPhones. The phones have been designed to use the full range of new frequencies that the various cellular companies are touting as 5G, up to and including the millimeter wave spectrum offered in center cities by Verizon. In addition to 5G, the phones have new features like a better camera, better ease at using wireless charging, and a lidar scanner. The last change is the most revolutionary since lidar allows apps on the phone to better see and react to the surrounding environment.

But Apple is going all-in on the 5G concept. It's a natural thing to do since cellular carriers have been talking non-stop about 5G for the last few years. However, by heavily advertising the new phones as 5G capable, Apple is possibly setting themselves up to be the brunt of consumer dissatisfaction when the public realizes that what's being sold as 5G is just a repackaged version of 4G. The new features from an upgrade in cellular specifications will get rolled out over a decade, as we saw with the transition from 3G to 4G. In terms of these new phones' improvements, we are probably now at 4.1G, which is a far cry from what 5G will be like in ten years.

What I find most disturbing about the whole 5G phenomenon is that the cellular companies have essentially sold the public on the advantages of faster cellular speeds without anybody ever asking the big question of why cellphones need faster speed. Cellphones are, by definition, a single user device. The biggest data application that most people ever do on a cellphone is to watch videos. If a 4G phone is sufficient to watch videos, what's the advantage of spending a lot of money to upgrade to 5G? Home broadband needs fast broadband to allow multiple people to use broadband simultaneously, but that isn't true for a cellphone.

People do get frustrated with smartphones that get poor coverage inside big buildings, in elevators, in the inevitable cellular dead zones in every town or rural areas too far away from cell towers, but 5G phones won't fix any of these problems. Poor cellular coverage happens in areas that naturally block or can't receive wireless signals. No technology can make up for the lack of wireless signal.

The big new 5G feature in the iPhones is the ability to use all of the different frequencies that the cellular companies are now transmitting. However, these frequencies aren't additive — if somebody grabs a new '5G' frequency, the bandwidth on that frequency doesn't add to what they were receiving on 4G. Instead, the user gets whatever frequency is available on the new spectrum channel. In many cases, the new 5G frequencies are lower than traditional cellular frequencies, so data speeds will be a little slower.

The cellular companies are hoping that Apple is successful. The traditional frequencies used for 4G have been getting crowded, particularly in urban areas. Cellular data traffic has been growing at the torrid pace of 24% per year, and the traditional cellular network using big towers is getting overwhelmed.

Cellular companies have been trying to offload the 4G traffic volumes from the traditional cellular networks by opening up thousands of small cell sites. But their biggest hope for relieving 4G was to open up new bands of spectrum — which they have done. Every data connection made on a new frequency band is one that isn't going to clog up the old and overfull cellular network. Introducing new bands of frequency doesn't do the cellular networks any good unless people start using the new frequency bands — and that's where the iPhone is a godsend to cellular companies. Vast volumes of data will finally migrate to the newly opened frequency bands as these new iPhones hit the market.

Unfortunately, users will likely not see any advantages from the change. Users will be migrating connection to a different frequency band, but it's still 4G. It will be curious to see who takes the heat when the expensive new phones don't outperform the old phones — will it be Apple or the cellular carriers?

Written by Doug Dawson, President at CCG Consulting

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More under: Mobile Internet, Telecom, Wireless

Categories: News and Updates

Going Postal

Domain industry news - Tue, 2020-10-20 21:29

When a service is constructed using diverse components, then the way in which service revenues are distributed to the various suppliers of the components of the service can follow a number of quite distinct models. There are various forms of revenue redistribution models where the revenue per transaction is distributed to the various suppliers according to their inputs to support each transaction. And there are various "bill and keep" models where a set of service providers use each other's services, essentially donate their service to each other. This allows each service provider to bill their customers for the entire service and rely on a "knock for knock" model. The foregone revenue for the donated services matches the opportunity revenue gained in the efficiencies, not having to redistribute the customer's fees for the compound service.

At one point in the telephone saga, one large telco acknowledged that it cost the company some 21c to bill their customers 25c per local phone call. The shift to flat fees without usage tariffs is not only attractive to many customers but also attractive to many operators as a means of stripping out huge costs from their billing systems and eliminating one of the major points of friction with their customer base.

The Internet is a good example of this compound service, where each Internet carriage provider provides services to both their customers and the customers of other carriage providers. If you look at the Internet as a packet transit network, then many individual providers play a role in passing an IP packet from a sender to a receiver.

Contrary to the utopian mantra of the late 80's the Internet is certainly not free, and ultimately there is only one source of revenue: users like you and me. We each pay our local access providers some form of service tariff. This revenue is then notionally distributed across the network in a manner that is intended, to varying levels of accuracy, to compensate each contributing service provider according to the costs they incur in providing the service. We each pay our access service providers, and they, in turn, pay various transit and exchange providers, or carriage providers, for their services. But this raises a perennial topic for the Internet. How do the various carriage service providers pay each other? Who sets these inter-provider financial settlement rates? On what basis are these rates set? How fair are these arrangements? Much has been written on this topic of settlements and peering in the Internet, and doubtless much more will be written. As we continue to explore this topic it's useful to look at other communications systems and look at how they coped with much the same problem.

For many years it felt that International Telecommunications Union (ITU) had been cast as the bad boy by the United States due largely to the structure of international call accounting financial settlements and the perception that these arrangements placed US carriers, particularly AT&T, at a massive disadvantage. For much of the latter part of the twentieth century US enterprises saw in the ITU an institution that was hostile to US interests in that it was apparently determined to extract money from US telephone operators and divide up the spoils in a completely unfair and potentially corrupt manner. Even though the US economy is significant, the ITU's voting model with one country one vote meant that the extent of the US both in corporate and government terms could affect some redress of their grievances with this situation was very limited. For this reason, among others of course, the US took a firm position to in the 1990's withhold the Internet from the same international treaty organisational regulatory structure, and this position was staunchly maintained by the US for many years. This is still largely the case today, although aspects of direct US oversight of the coordinating infrastructure of the Internet are no longer as evident as they were in the past. There is no UN agency lurking behind ICANN, or the Regional Internet Registries. There are no inter-provider arrangements described in some regulatory recommendations from the ITU or any other such recognised international body. And when we come to the issue of interconnection between Internet carriage providers there is no imposed common framework that governs any such interconnections. Peering and settlements in the Internet are a market, much like any other, and it's up to each service provider to negotiate a position with other providers of their choice that they can live with. Yes, there are winners and there are losers, as with any such framework, and the winners are generally happier with the current situation than those who perceive that they are net losers here. However, after some thirty years of working within this system we seem to have become accustomed to this system, complete with its perceived benefits and inequities. Or, at a minimum, the US interests who felt so aggrieved by the telco international call accountment settlement frameworks now feel that they are not a disadvantaged party in Internet's arrangements.

But it's useful to remind ourselves that it could've been so very different. There were a number of alternate models that were examined along the way, and the ITU model of half circuits, call accounting and call accounting financial settlements, was certainly one that was supported by many, particularly those with a background in the telco sector. The fact that we couldn't find a "call" or even a "caller" and the fact that the retail tariffs were based on access rather than individual service transactions did not seem to bother these proponents. The market-based system we're using seems to reward the early and the largest adopters, and everyone else has to pay. Considering the care that the telco sector had taken to try and balance the inter-provider interconnection space to ensure that no single national provider could leverage their position to the detriment of others, including half circuit funding frameworks and originating call minute accounting with agreed transfer rates, this seems like a regressive step on the part of the Internet.

However, the telco interconnection model was not the only show in town. There was another body in the international treaty space that did not appear to engender the United States' opprobrium, or at least not until quite recently! And that body is the Universal Postal Union or UPU. Here I'd like to look at the UPU's track record of trying to cope with a similar settlement and peering problem and contrast their various responses to those used within the Internet.

The Advent of the Penny Post

1878 British One Penny Post Stamp

While sending letters to each other is about as old as civilization itself, it remained a pastime of the ruling class and the privileged elites for millennia. The writing and reading of written messages required education, and the movement of the messages required the services of a specialized courier service. The industrial revolution of the nineteenth century saw many changes in society, including the dislocation of large numbers of people moving from the country to the new industrial cities looking for better working conditions. The mass movement was not only a movement within countries, but emigration was also a major feature of this time. Schooling became more commonplace, and literacy rose. There was a greater level of demand for an available and affordable mail delivery service that would replace the rather haphazard process of mail couriers who were paid upon delivery of a letter.

Although a postal service had been available in Britain for hundreds of years, the Royal Mail took two revolutionary steps in the nineteenth century that would make it the leader in postal innovation at the time. In 1840, Roland Hill, an enthusiastic campaigner for postal reform, led the Royal Mail's introduction of the Penny Post, a cheap single rate for domestic delivery of letters, replacing a complex distance and letter volume tariff. This step made the mail service accessible to a much larger population. At the same time, it was intended to result in a large-scale uptake of the use of private correspondence, allowing the mail delivery service to realize economies of scale and process. The second revolutionary step was a switch from the recipient pays to a sender pays tariff model. This step removed a troubling imposition on the mail service, caused by mail refusal. Under the recipient-funded service model, the refusal of a mail item meant that the postal service incurred the cost of delivery, as well as the cost of return, assuming that the refused mail was ever returned.

These reforms had a profound impact. They generated huge volumes of postal traffic, facilitated the development of commerce and underpinned significant changes in social communication. This measure coincided with the Industrial Revolution when people were moving from rural areas to the industrial cities and from one country to another, so these postal reforms eased to, some extent, the social pressures that arose from this large-scale transformation in nineteenth-century society.

Ocean Penny Postage

The pressures for postal reform rapidly spread, and there was a debate at the time for what was called "Ocean Penny Postage." This was largely driven in the United States, where a significant immigrant population wanted to maintain ties with their family back home. The postage rates for trans-oceanic postage were extremely high, and recipient-pays refusal rate was high enough to be a significant imposition for the postal carriers. Complicating this was the issue of a complex overlay of courier services to carry a mail item. Each stage of the delivery of the letter would incur a further change by that courier, sometimes using a different tariff model with a different weight classification.

As the immigration levels increased, this system became unworkable. The first international reform in the 1850s was to shift away from the individual handling of each letter and use standard weight mailbags as the element of exchange between national mail couriers. This created a predictable tariff for the delivery of a letter, which in turn allowed postal operators to adopt a pre-paid international letter delivery service. The postal operators used intergovernmental agreements to allow the destination postal services to accept the mailbag and not open up and weigh every letter.

Before the UPU international mail was supported by a patchwork set of agreements between governments in bilateral agreements, individual countries had to negotiate, where they could, bilateral arrangements with other countries for the forwarding of mail. This might've involved private arrangements with transit couriers to deliver the mail to the destination country. Once at the destination country, the destination postal system would deliver the mail to the address. This did not scale easily to all countries as the bilateral arrangements were piecemeal. This was complex because different countries imposed different conditions to accept mail and used different fees. And for many countries around the world, such arrangements were simply not possible to make those bilateral arrangements with state organizations and private carriers were often very unreliable. By the late 1860's early 1870's it was evident to all around the world that some form of uniform arrangement was highly desirable. There was the universal expectation that the British Royal Mail would provide leadership here, working from the domestic Penny Postage reforms' earlier success. But this was a case where the British did not take the lead, largely for domestic reasons. The two national proponents in the 1870's were America and Germany, while the Swiss agreed to chair the arrangements.

The General Postal Union

An 1863 international meeting in Paris failed to come up with an agreement between the largely European collection of national postal services. Eleven years later, the International Postal Congress in Berne in 1874 managed to obtain agreement, and the "General Postal Union" was established. The new framework that encompasses the European nations, plus Russia, Egypt and the US, normalized the various classes of mail and the auxiliary postal services. Their work on the classification of "Printed Matter" resulted in a definition that was essentially non-correspondence, which allowed many other objects other than letters to be handled by the postal services.

One of the big questions was, "who should pay for the delivery of mail?" While the sender paid the local postage agency for the feisty part of the onward route of the letter, much of the expense was incurred on the delivery of the item in the addressed country. Who should pay the destination postal agency for the delivery of internal post items?

The 1874 conference played with the idea of performing inter-agency financial settlements, recording every instance of a bilateral item of postal delivery, debiting the sending country for every delivered item, and crediting the delivering country the same amount, based on a universal postal delivery charge. However, the additional record keeping and associated arrangements for financial settlement per item of delivered mail were considered to pose an almost insurmountable barrier to the scheme. In a desire to get things going quickly, they come up with a pragmatic settlement of "sender keep all" where the sending country would retain all the postage revenues for international services. This was far simpler to manage, of course, and on the assumption that the volumes of mail items between two countries were roughly similar and the delivery costs were also roughly similar, then this arrangement would have a similar net outcome as compared to detailed per transactions financial settlement with significantly lower overheads. This interim measure remained the situation in the ensuing decades and proved surp[risingly effective.

The next question was: How much? Should each country be able to set its own rates? Or should there be a single international rate, akin to the British domestic Penny Postage service? The 1874 General Postal Union (GPU) conference came up with a schedule of permitted postage rates. The higher rates were intended to cover the delivery costs where the population was widely dispersed, and access was expensive, as was the Russian and Ottoman empires' case.

A number of countries kept their previous rate. The UK decided on a single international rate of 2¼d rate for all destination countries, including the US. The US was surprised by this move as this created postage rate asymmetries, and as these were public agencies, such asymmetries had political ramifications. More than a few countries matched the British 2¼d international postage rates.

The initial experience with this flat rate for all countries was further refined in the 1876 GPU conference. Four countries, Germany, France, the US and Great Britain, came up with a "base rate" that would apply as a minimum rate in all cases to all countries, where the international postage rate was double the domestic postage rate. The theory was that no country would lose out in this scheme, particularly if the mail volumes in and out of each country were roughly equivalent. The "overspend" on the part of the sender for outgoing mail would fund both the transit delivery cost to the addressed country for outgoing mail and the domestic delivery of incoming mail. No one would be any better or worse off under this sender-keep-all scheme with a double domestic rate postage tariff. This became the standard rate for all GPU members. In 1878 the GPU changed its name to the Universal Postal Union or UPU.

Refining the Balanced Traffic Model

Subsequent experience proved that these assumptions about roughly balanced mail traffic volumes were not universal. The original assumptions of a smaller group of countries with an exchange of personal letters that balanced in overall volume were being eroded by the changing patterns of use of the international postal system. In 1900 Italy complained to the UPU Congress of a large volume of incoming periodicals being posted into Italy, but it was sending none to other countries. Italy requested an amendment to the constitution of the UPU to require payment for the delivery of the extra incoming mail that exceeded the volumes of outgoing mail. The UPU did nothing on this request at the time. And it the ponderous manner to which many international bodies aspired to, they did nothing for some sixty years!

The twentieth century saw the challenges of airmail, the challenges of maintaining a postal system during times of war, and the challenges of rampant domestic inflation in some countries. The latter factor caused a set of distortions in the postal system which still exist today, where it can be cheaper to privately ship mail bags to a country where the outgoing international postal rate is relatively low, and pass the mail items into the postage system in that country as international mail. This sustains anomalous behavior where it may be cheaper for a postage agency to ship mail to another country than to put it into the domestic postal system. Businesses in the Netherlands noted at one point that it was 90% cheaper to use Hungary to send mail to Netherland addressees than to use the domestic postal system in the Netherlands. The Netherlands threatened to block incoming mail from Hungary to prevent this anomaly from wreaking havoc on their domestic postal agency.

Airmail was considered an extraordinary service for some time, but unlike land-based transit, the airmail system passed over land borders and landed the mail directly in the addressed country, bypassing all land-based transit fees. The British shifted to an all-air mail delivery system as it was a cheaper method for all outgoing mail.

Public and Private Mail Services

After 1945 the UPU gained many new members as former colonies became countries, and with the inauguration of the United Nations, the UPU affiliated itself with the UN. For a while, the postal system model was essentially a union of public postal services operated by national entities. The 1950s saw the introduction of private mail couriers, who wanted to have functional interfaces between their services and the public services. One of the early players in the space was the Australian courier company TNT, who, along with the US enterprises FedEx and UPS, led the private sector's charge into this up to now refined public space previously exclusively occupied by national monopolies. The private carriers were early adopters of automated systems. They re-introduced per-item inter-provider settlement tariffs, but at the same time, introduced delivery time assurances, such as same-day services between certain destinations.

By the 1990s, this was more than a complication, and it created a major schism in the postal world. With the progressive privatization of former public enterprises in the 1980s and onward, the distinction between private and public postal service enterprise was largely lost. TNT, for example, took over the Dutch postal service, KPN, forming the TNT Post Group in 1998 that provided the public postal service for the Netherlands. At that point, the UPU had to incorporate private sectors post operators as well as national entities into its structure.

UPU Terminal Dues

The problem of mail imbalances became a larger issue in the UPU post-1945. Like many international bodies of the time, the UPU operated their decision-making structure along the lines of "one country one vote," and the introduction of many post-colonial countries into the UPU changed the UPU quite radically. Developing countries complained that the incoming mail volumes were far higher than the outgoing mail volume. The notion that a double domestic postage rate for outgoing mail essentially 'prepays" for the consequent incoming reply relies on a balanced mail volume falls apart when the incoming mail volumes rise far above outgoing mail. This was largely due to the small parcel and packet volumes, and these smaller countries made the case that they wanted delivery payment for these small packets and countries.

The UPU responded by making a distinction between the so-called "developing" countries and the others. Developing countries received delivery payments from developed countries to compensate them for this imbalance in mail volumes. These payments were made irrespective of the actual mail volumes, so in the case of some Asian countries, including China, they were classified as developing so that they received delivery payments for incoming parcels despite the fact that they had a net outgoing mail volume, shipping packets, and parcels to Europe and North America.

The UPU introduced "Terminal Dues" in 1969 as their response to mail imbalances. These terminal dues used a process of aggregate volumes of incoming and outgoing mail between any two countries, paid by the net sender country to the net receiver. The advent of electronic commerce in recent times saw countries such as China become high volume net senders and other countries becomes high volume net receivers, completely upending the established pattern of UPU-determined bilateral financial settlements arising from these terminal dues.

The terminal dues are set at a common level for all countries. That level is below the level of comparable domestic costs for mail delivery in many, if not all, developed economies. This means that the national postal service is forced to cross-subsidize the costs of delivering incoming postal items with the revenues gathered from the domestic postal service, placing further stress on the domestic postal tariffs directly benefiting the sending country. Furthermore, the terminal dues rate paid by developing countries is lower than that paid by developed countries.

This has led to some anomalies in the international environment. Clearly, those countries who are net senders of international mail items are receipts of net terminal dues payments. China is a good example of a country that has derived net benefit from these arrangements. The British, German, French and Dutch providers responded by expanding their previously domestic postal service into the international delivery market, leveraging this international business to offset their domestic terminal dues net payments. Other national postal services that have remained within their national borders are the big losers here, as they face increasing losses due to terminal dues. Their only available revenue-raising measure is to raise domestic tariffs, which causes downward pressure on domestic mail volumes. More individuals and businesses turn to electronic services in response to increasing prices. The consequent erosion of the domestic mail service further drives domestic commerce to e-commerce services and private courier services, exacerbating the national postal service problem and hastening the decline of these national enterprises.

E-commerce has also increased the pressures on this system in other ways. It has allowed consumers to order products directly from international sellers and manufacturers, and this has, in turn, shifted the burden of delivery costs from a small set of import agents to the domestic postal system. For example, to appreciate the scale of these changes, it is noted that out of 100M postal parcels entering the EU in 2017, two-thirds were posted in China.

Erosion of Terminal Dues

Membership of the UPU is a burden in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Italy, Ireland and many other countries where the imbalance of internal postal volumes works against the national postal carrier. Obviously in the UPU there is a huge split between the net importers and the net exporters. The net importers are advocates of higher terminal dues rates. The United States had previously supported low terminal dues rates, but as the postal content shifted from documents to packages, the US postal service became a net importer and the terminal dues revenue was not covering the costs of delivery of incoming packages and parcels, predominantly from China. The Trump administration saw itself as being on the short end of the stick and saw the terminal dues framework as one that imposed further costs on US domestic commerce. The administration resigned from the UPU. The US subsequently withdrew its resignation only when the UPU voted to permit the US to set its own terminal rate for the delivery of inbound packages.

The shifting patterns of use of the postal service and its transformation from letters through periodicals and documents to today's package and parcel business have providers to be the major challenges for the UPU. This has been compounded by the presence of private courier services that cherry-pick the postal services on otherwise loss-making services while retaining higher-margin services within their own operational sphere.

The UPU is facing some major existential challenges. The original benefits of facilitated transit and uniform inter-provider rates have all but vaporized. The residual asset was the mailbag system, and the UPU measures was that the screening of incoming mail was the responsibility of the receiver, performed at the receiver's cost. But this too is falling apart. Many countries are now requiring the sender to provide the information used for package screening, pushing most of the burden relating to describing the contents of these packages and the grounds for customs clearance back to the sender.

Lessons

What can the experience of the UPU tell us about the Internet's arrangements for settlement and peering? The postal system, the telephone system, the airline system and the Internet have all had to address the issue of multi-provider service delivery. Each of these activities has addressed the issue in various ways.

The UPU came the closest to make a Sender Keep All interconnection mechanism viable. To maintain the stability of such an arrangement does not necessarily imply that all providers are the same size. But what is implied is that all bilateral arrangements are made between roughly equally sized transaction volumes. The correspondence model was based on an exchange of letters, where volumes in and out were commensurate.

Where the exchanged volumes are not symmetric, then the Sender Keep All arrangements are not stable, in that one party is leveraging the other. In the postal situation, when the predominate transaction shifted from correspondence to parcels, asymmetries emerged and the Sender Keep All arrangements became unstable.

The Internet inter-provider space has also made extensive use of Sender Keep All arrangements, but they are only used by mutual consent. This is based on a perception of equal value in the arrangement. If one party has a greater dependence on the arrangement, the other party would be advantaged by converting it into a customer/provider arrangement. By making the interconnection into a market rather than a common imposition, parties are free to enter into Sender Keep All arrangements based on mutual agreement and free to set out the terms when the agreement is rescinded. Parties are not forced into an arrangement where they are disadvantaged for the sake of imposing a common arrangement on all actors.

The UPU transformed these agreements into a form of sender pays agreements with the introduction of terminal dues. The issue with the terminal dues system was that it was not necessarily a cost-based schedule of tariffs. A form of structural cross-subsidization in the form of discounted rates to so-called developing countries entered into the structure. From an economic perspective, there is much to be said for removing hidden cross-subsidies in such exchange systems. Aid to developing countries should be a deliberate decision with an overt payment structure. The approach of deeply embedding discounts into exchange fee schedules has the potential to create anomalies that expose the entire system to leverage and potential abuse. The US experience with terminal dues is a good example of the problems that can arise here. Similar issues were evident in the telco sector with the ITU structure of international call accounting settlements, where the call termination rate included a cross-subsidy to developing nations.

The Internet has not gone down this path of balanced settlement payments. The critical observation as to why this has not happened is that stable inter-provider arrangements need to be based on stable uniform retail tariff structures.

A good example of what happens when this is not the case can be found in the telco regime when the retail tariff for local calls was an untimed call for a flat fee, while the inter-provider tariff was based on a per-minute transfer charge. In the dial-up modem market of the early 90s some retail telcos saw advantage in hosting banks of modems for dual-up ISPs so that they could charge termination per minute changes to other retail telcos who were only getting a flat fee from their customers for the modem call. The timed interconnection fee revenues could be used to both subsidize the modem banks and provide a net financial return to the telco.

The retail tariff structure for the Internet is not based on "calls" or any other form of discrete customer transaction. There have been efforts to base a retail tariff on received volumes in the so-called "capped" volume-based tariffs. Still, these tariffs do not extend into the inter-provider space. They are generally seen as a measure to mitigate over-consumption in the access network of mobile networks and have no clear counterpart in a wired network. In general, customers pay their access ISP for a "whole of Internet" service. It's then no surprise that the access ISP pays its providers for a "whole of Internet" service as well.

This leads to the rather sparse set of choices in the Internet:

  • We can agree that one of us is the provider and the other is the customer, and the customer pays the provider, and after that, it's just a matter of determining the price.
  • We can agree that we can't figure out who should be the provider and who should be the customer, but we both have reached the conclusion that we'd be better off interconnecting than not. Then we can agree to exchange traffic on a Sender Keep All basis and feel comfortable with this.
  • We can't agree on either of the above, in which case there is no interconnection.

While the future of the telephone world and the institutional foundation of the ITU-T sounds today like a contradiction in terms, there is still a future in the parcel delivery world and the logistics behind that. Increasingly, however, there is little to distinguish between the remnants of the national postal systems and the private courier services. Within the world of these courier enterprises, the same forces of volume-based economies of scale sustain a small set of dominant actors across the international space. This does not bode well for the outlook for the UPU and its residual national constituency. And as for the Internet, the almost unconscious decision to leave the entire system of interconnection to market forces appears in retrospect to have been one of the most robust decisions we've made. It's allowed the provider framework to adapt to the changing picture of the Internet from edge-based service models to core-based content delivery seamlessly. When the time is right, I'm confident that it will allow us to adapt this environment to future service models with equal ease. If the history of the UPU tells us anything, it should warn us of the perils of memorializing in an institution the arrangements that work today because it inevitably adds to the burden of the future in resisting change and imposing a dead weight on further innovation.

Written by Geoff Huston, Author & Chief Scientist at APNIC

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More under: ICANN, Internet Governance, Policy & Regulation, Telecom

Categories: News and Updates

A walk down memory lane in domain investing

Domain Name Wire - Tue, 2020-10-20 17:40

These old documents bring back memories.

This weekend I cleaned out some old boxes of files and came across one labeled “domain names”. It contained a bunch of documents I’ve saved over the past 20+ years related to my domain name investing.

There were a handful of my Network Solutions receipts from registering domain names while I was in college. Back then, you’d get a paper confirmation in the snail mail whenever you registered a domain name. I remember going to the mailbox somedays and find a dozen envelopes from Network Solutions. (See image above.)

I also found the transfer documents I sent to Network Solutions when I sold my first website. I built the website in my dorm room using Microsoft Frontpage and sold it on eBay.

Speaking of which, transferring a domain name back then was a big pain. I found a couple of transfer documents I had faxed to Dotster to transfer domains I sold. I even had to copy my photo ID to send along with each multi-page transfer request.

Oh, and then there was this printout of Adsense earnings from January 2005:

Unfortunately, that was just about the end of the Adsense gravy train.

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Categories: News and Updates

Trademarks suggest more domain services in the works

Domain Name Wire - Mon, 2020-10-19 20:24

These trademark applications are for domain name services.

A lot of entities and people have filed trademarks related to domain name services lately. Most of these have been filed on an intent-to-use basis, meaning the companies haven’t used them in commerce yet. Here’s a rundown of some of the applications.

ALD Holdings, LLC, a company in Montana, filed for Pamphlet for “Providing a web hosting platform for simple and secure domain transactions” and Learn Domains for “Business consulting services in the field of domain name investing”.

Gordon Hayes filed for Impossible to Forget for “Reseller services, in the field of internet services, namely, distributorship services in the field of domains and domain names; domain name brokering services, namely, procuring of contracts for the purchase and sale of domain names; providing information about domain names for sale; reseller services, namely, distributorship services in the field of domain names.”

WebGrow, Inc. in Massachusetts filed for an intent-to-use trademark Domains for Marketing for “Marketing services in the nature of assisting companies with their marketing, branding and sales by procuring, developing, and providing for sale, rent or lease, as well as by consulting regarding, internet domain names and websites”.

DNPG LLC in Boston filed an intent-to-use trademark Attentive for “business consulting and advisory services in the field of domain name investigations, acquisitions and brokerage”.

Finally, remember the guy who is trying to trademark Premium Domain? His latest filings are for App and App.Inc for “Leasing of internet domain names, namely, leasing of premium domain names, and domain name leasing services” and App.Inc.

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