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Domain Goldrush Part 7 - WLS Gets ICANN Approval

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Lee Hodgson

Lee Hodgson

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Lee Hodgson where domain name registration is made easy. Industry knowledge, and personal advice come together to help you secure the best possible home on the Web.

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After a long delay, ICANN recently approved the introduction of VeriSign's "Wait Listing Service" (WLS). For those of you not familiar with WLS, it is a registry-level first-come first-served subscription service for the automatic registration of deleted domain names. It is largely based on SnapName's successful SnapBack(TM) backordering system, and indeed, VeriSign has partnered with SnapNames in designing and producing the WLS system.

Once WLS launches, any deleting .com or .net domain name (.org names will not be included) that has a WLS order on it will no longer be "fought over" by ICANN registrars and the various name grabbing services. Instead, it will automatically be allocated to the WLS position holder for that name. In other words, the days of name-grabbing by registrars will be over for some names, replaced by a first-come first-served back ordering system. Names will only ever drop if they don't have a subscriber attached to them.

So when is this new system going to happen? There is no clear answer to that question yet. As one of the conditions of approving the system, ICANN specified that:

Subscriptions under the WLS in the .com and .net top-level domains shall not be taken by VeriSign Global Registry Services until at least six months have elapsed after implementation of the Redemption Grace Period for all deleted names in those top-level domains.

Since the "Redemption Grace Period" has not yet been implemented, it seems that we are still many months away from the launch of WLS.

Other conditions attached by ICANN are also of interest. In particular:

No preference in connection with, or exclusion from, WLS shall be given because of any registrar-level reservation service.

This means that SnapBack subscriptions will not automatically be converted by the Registry into WLS subscriptions on the same name. However, SnapNames and its registrar partners intend to convert SnapBacks to WLS orders. In other words, your SnapBack subscriptions will not become obsolete once WLS is launched. The minimum guarantee SnapNames has given is that they will convert each and every SnapBack order into a WLS subscription without charge. They will try for the name you had the SnapBack on, and if that isn't available, you will be able to select a different name - just like today's exchange guarantee.

It should be noted that WLS has only been approved on a 12-month trial basis. However, given the changes required by the registry, registrars, and the consumer in converting to WLS, and the momentum the system will inevitably build, it doesn't take a genius to work out that WLS is likely to be with us for a long time to come.

Whilst many domain speculators, who have based their business models on the infinite intricacies of name grabbing during domain drops, are up in arms about WLS, most consumers will find it a more straightforward, fair and accessible system. They will know that in the future, if they subscribe to a particular domain name and the previous owner does not renew, they will get the name. It doesn't come much fairer than that.

As someone who has spent countless hours trying to explain to bewildered customers how the current domain drop system works, I, for one, look forward to this new more consumer-friendly system.

Bring on the brave new expiring domains world!

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