More Big Hosts Becoming ICANN Domain Registrars

A growing number of large hosting companies are becoming ICANN-accredited registrars, allowing them to sell domain names directly instead of relying on third-party wholesalers. The Planet is now accredited and is selling domains to existing customers for just $5.99 a year. Another huge dedicated hosting company, EV1Servers.net, says it is also seeking registrar status, citing the approval process as a factor in an extended outage for its online domain registration system.

Becoming a registrar allows hosting companies to eliminate the middleman and capture the fees being paid to their wholesale registrars on each domain. Some may be able to lower their domain prices and pass the savings along to customers. Germany's 1&1 Internet AG, the world's largest hosting specialist, is an accredited registrar and offers .com domain names for just $5.99 a year.

The moves also reflect growing competition between registrars and the hosting companies, who traditionally have been their largest resellers. A number of large domain registrars have expanded their hosting operations in the past year, and are starting to gain business. Last month three registrars showed substantial gains in active sites - hostnames featuring multi-page content indicating a web site rather than a parked domain. Go Daddy grew by 235,000 active sites last month, while Dotster added 101.9K and Register.com gained 50.8K.

ICANN lists 468 accredited registrars. The list includes 97 different registrar entities operated by Momentous, the Canadian domain services specialist.

The Planet has been one of the fastest-growing hosting providers during the past, and now hosts more than 1 million hostnames. The Dallas provider began selling domains to customers on March 22, but the $5.99 offer is only available to customers, and the company has not indicated if and when it will sell domains to the public. Until recently, The Planet was selling .com domains for $30 a year.

EV1Servers' automated domain registration system has been unavailable since mid-March, and the company is not saying when it will be back. The provider is handling renewals manually for customers, and says an improved online system is coming. "We have consistently reiterated that we have no ETA, but we are both seeking ICANN accreditation and creating an enhanced payment gateway to prevent fraud," EV1's Aaron Conklin writes in the company's customer forum. "Once both are complete an even more robust and advanced version of our domain registration services will be available to everyone." The company sells domain names for $6.49 a year.