Memorandum submitted by Personal Domain
A FAIR WAY TO A WORLD CLASS INTERNET FOR
PDN is a not for profit company set up with
the sole aim of running a new kind of internet domain name for
individuals Dot me.uk
Dot me.uk is the most important SLD with respect
to the future development of the web. Providing individuals with
their own personal website address has potential to dramatically
improve the experience of using the internet.
PDN believes that reform in the way that UK
internet domains are managed is required if Britain is to be able
to apply new developments such as Dot me.uk to their full potential.
We believe that the current system is anti-competitive and we
are looking to the DTI and the OFT to open the market to genuine
Nominet is the name of the organisation
which currently operates as UK registry for internet domain names.
Nominet is a private organisation, operating in a monopoly position.
Nominet is the overall manager of
what is known as the "country code"ie the domain
name ending in .uk.
Although Nominet is currently accepted
by the Government as manager of the .uk country code, it has no
statutory recognition or remit.
To date, Nominet have only granted applications
for domain registries to themselves. Although there is a procedure
that allows for the submission of "un-sponsored" or
independent applications, there is little evidence that these
are encouraged or have any chance of equitable consideration.
Under the current system, Nominet is regulator,
bidder and bid adjudicator. PDN believes that this presents Nominet
with a significant conflict of interest that prevents it from
judging applications in an appropriate manner.
Mike Blanche, former chair of Nominet's Policy
Advisory Board, is on records as saying that he, "cannot
think of any circumstances where a general unrestricted commercial
registry, whether for profit or not, would be better run by someone
other than Nominet."
The structure of Nominet is based on an old
monopolistic US model that has since been recognised as flawed
by the United States Congress and US Department of Justice. This
same US model was split up into three separate registries by the
US Congress because it was judged to be anti-competitive. In Australia,
the Government has recently disbanded the Nominet equivalent and
replaced it with a more competitive structure to provide greater
consumer benefits. As a result, all existing Australian SLDs have
been put out to public tender.
The UK needs an internet infrastructure
that can compete on the world stage. The registry used by Nominet
is extremely old technology and Nominet itself has publicly declared
that "even with a low percentage take up, the introduction
of this SLD Dot me.uk would have considerable impact on Nominet's
The lack of a modern infrastructure
has the potential to place a significant barrier to more widespread
and popular use of the internet.
In order to protect their system
from any potential overload, Nominet is looking to deflect demand
by charging a high, £50, wholesale price for setting up a
Dot me.uk web-siteie to register www.johnsmith.me.uk. This
means that the retail price to consumers would be beyond the financial
means of many.
As well as offering a world class internet infrastructure,
PDN believes that there are strong grounds for independent applications
to run dot.uk registries:
Consumer interestAn independent
operator would introduce a new element of competition into what
is currently a protected monopoly market. The "me.uk"
SLD requires a more effective and "consumer friendly"
registration and disputes resolution procedure then is offered
Supply securityPDN believes
that it is in the British economic and national security interest
for a second organisation to provide a "pillar" of support
in the registry operation sector. The establishment of a significant
second location supply provides one of the most important strategic
arguments in favour of an independent operator. For example, PDN's
operations would primarily be based in Liverpool and Blackburn
and secondarily in Glasgow, offering significantly increased security
to the provision of registry operations in the UK.
The Regional DimensionPDN
has the support of Liverpool County Council, BT Ignite and Sun
Microsystems on both the application and the location of new developments
in the region. The establishment of PDN's registry in the North
West would benefit from available skills and capacity, and act
as a major engine for growth for the IT sector in the Merseyside
area and the wider region. This sort of regional spread is vital
if the whole of the UK is going to benefit from the development
of British internet industries.
On 18 December, Nominet took the step of putting
their application to a vote of members. If it is approved, the
new inftrastructure will be up and running on 14 January 2002.
Nominet have not notified the membership (which numbers over 3,000)
that there is another application which we believe has been unfairly
rejected and which the OFT is currently looking into.
We need the Government to urgently consider
the role of Nominet.
In the interests of fair trading, and in order
to safeguard the future development of the UK's internet infrastructure,
PDN believe that in this case, the Government must urgently examine
the role currently played by Nominet and ensure a level playing
field for UK internet domain regulation.
24 December 2001