VeriSign received the highest marks in an evaluation of the firms competing to maintain the .net top-level domain (TLD), and appears likely to keep the lucrative registry deal for another six years. The report by Telcordia is influential in the decision on the future of .net, and ICANN indicated it would "promptly enter negotiations with the top-ranked applicant."
The report (PDF) ranked VeriSign slightly ahead of Sentan, followed by Afilias, Denic and CORE++. ICANN will now enter into negotiations with VeriSign, which currently maintains the .com and .net registries. If a deal can't be reached, ICANN would then presumably turn to Sentan, a joint venture between Japan Registry Services and NeuLevel (which maintains the .biz registry). Telcordia's analysis said Sentan is a viable alternative to VeriSign, which in theory should motivate VeriSign to quickly conclude a deal with ICANN. The new registry agreement will take effect July 1.
"All of the vendors have the capability to run the .NET registry," the report notes. "The distinguishing characteristics are largely differences in experience, risk, and price ... VeriSign has a small numerical edge over Sentan that is not statistically significant given the methodology used to rate the RFP responses. The risk to the operation of .NET is minimal if either organization is awarded the contract."
The evaluation included site visits by the Telcordia team to each applicant's facilities, and a review of written reports completed by each applicant. An international team of technical experts provided advice to Telcordia on operational requirements of the DNS. Telcordia's ability to be impartial was criticized by some parties, who cited past business ties between Telcordia and several applicants.