Greater controls called for .ie resellers


8 Feb 2006

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A leading hosting and .ie domain name reseller has lashed out at the current IE Domain Registry (IEDR) reseller programme, complaining that insufficient safeguards are in place to protect Irish .ie registrants if the reseller that bought their domain name goes out of business. A submission has been lodged with the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources.

Under the existing IEDR reseller programme, there is a Table A and Table B ranking. Eoin Costello, managing director of Novara.ie, a well-established hosting company, told siliconrepublic.com that up until a year ago the Table A reseller list stood at 10 companies. However, this has mushroomed to 21 resellers since then. To become a Table A reseller, firms had to demonstrate that they had more than 500 domains registered.

Under new regulations instigated by the IEDR aimed at protecting the public and ensuring high standards across both the Table A and B list — with 21 and 50 resellers respectively — all new or potential resellers from January onwards had to have registered at least 200 domains, provide a deposit of €2,500, pass a credit check as well as display technical knowledge and familiarity with IEDR rules.

The benefits of being an IEDR reseller include being able to sell .ie domains at the reseller rate of €29 (63pc below the retail rate of €79), being listed on the IEDR’s site as a recognised reseller, use of the IEDR logo and access to IEDR’s reseller console which would speed up the registration process for a new domain name.

As a result, each reseller can sell a domain name at any price between the €29 and €79 range. However, some resellers are selling .ie domains below cost for as little as €10.

Costello warned that the new regulations do not cover resellers that were already on the A list before January but only those that join up since January and as a result the public could be misled into buying a .ie domain from a company whose financial status has not been determined or recently checked. He said that at least three ‘approved’ resellers have on average been trading for two years, with one set up just six months ago. He warned that .ie registrants have no adequate protection if a company folded and online their webpage would simply disappear.

“According to Companies Registrations Office filings, at least three companies don’t have sufficient assets or backing to stay in business in the long term,” Costello warned. “If a company fails, .ie registrants may find their website will disappear because the domain name server specified won’t be working anymore. They may find it difficult to get their money back.

“I’m concerned about the risk to the public this will pose and the fact that the .ie domain name’s credibility is being put at risk,” Costello added. He called for all existing resellers that are listed as Table A resellers to be tested for suitability under the new regulations rather than solely new companies applying for A list status from January.

Costello has expressed his concerns in a submission to the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources as part of its public consultation for the Electronic Communications Miscellaneous Bill – which includes a proposal to put management of the IEDR under the auspices of Commission for Communications Regulation.

When contacted by siliconrepublic.com, the IEDR declined to comment. However, an industry source familiar with the issue said Costello’s concerns were moot insofar that if the new regulations were applied retrospectively companies on the A list would meet the conditions. “The reasons they weren’t applied retrospectively was that it would change the terms and conditions under which they [the resellers] originally received reseller status.

“In the .ie domain, there is far more protection for registrants than any of the global top level domains such as .com. The .ie is a country-based top-level domain and is administered on a managed basis. A .ie registrant can transfer between resellers if there’s any whiff of a problem; all that is required is an authorised signature. In the .com world the reseller can block the transfer and lock the registrant in. That doesn’t happen in the .ie domain space.

“In terms of the time scale involved, if someone comes up for renewal there is 14 days warning before and 14 days after the renewal date before a domain gets deleted. In total there are safeguards of up to 75 days on average around the renewal date before a .ie registrant would have their domain deleted against his or her will.

“In the .com world, if your registration is up for renewal and you haven’t paid by a certain date it goes into limbo and can’t be transferred until you’ve paid your existing reseller. In the .ie world there are a lot more protections and if a reseller company did go out of business a registrant’s .ie domain name would be protected for their use only,” the source said.

By John Kennedy