The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) may temporarily halve the fees paid by country code top-level domain (ccTLD) registries to encourage them to enter agreements with it.
Icann - the body that oversees internet domain administration, IP address space allocation and root name server management internationally - needs to increase its income to cover the near-$8m it needs next year.
Icann's funding comes from generic top-level domain registries and from those ccTLD registries with which it has an agreement, based on the number of domains registered within each top-level domain.
It also receives contributions on a voluntary basis from other ccTLDs. Since relatively few ccTLD registries have agreements with Icann, those that have pay a disproportionate amount, which then acts as a disincentive for others to enter agreements.
Country code top-level domains include .uk (for the UK), .fr (for France) and .tv (for the tiny Pacific island nation of Tuvalu); generic top-level domains include .net, .com, .org, .gov, .info and .biz. Other domains can be registered within these, such as idg.net or icann.org.
CcTLDs contain a growing percentage of registered domains, at 38.4% in February this year, up from 32.1% in March last year, according to Icann estimates. The ccTLD registries are, therefore, an important potential source of revenue.
For the financial year 2003-2004, however, Icann only expects to receive $601,000 in voluntary contributions from the ccTLDs with which it does not yet have an agreement. However, Icann said that based on the ccTLDs' fair share of its costs, these registries should pay $3.7m.
Icann therefore proposes to halve the fee allocation per ccTLD, increasing the amount paid by gTLDs, in the hope of encouraging more to sign up, it said. The reduction would then need to be reconsidered each year.
Icann is being renamed Icann 2.0 and is expanding its remit, including the establishment of a pilot "Outreach Programme" to developing countries,which aims to explain Icann's policies, procedures and benefits to developing internet communities and governments.
Icann is also trying to improve the way it receives public comment on its activities and is putting together ombudsman and independent review programmes to help resolve domain disputes.