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+ - NeuStar wins .US contract renewal

Submitted by
dmehus
dmehus writes "The U.S. National Telecommunications and Information Administration ("NTIA"), an operating agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce that oversees such things as domain name contract administration and wireless spectrum policy, has just recently announced a renewal of NeuStar's contract to act as registry administrator of the dot-US country code Top Level Domain ("usTLD"). NeuStar had faced some well-heeled and professional competition for the usTLD registry contract from Domain Name Alliance Registry JV, a 50-50 joint venture between The Go Daddy Group Inc. (the parent company of the world's largest domain name registrar GoDaddy.com Inc.) and Afilias Ltd. (the operator of the ".info" domain name registry, the back-end technical infrastructure administrator of the ".org" registry and the operator or administrator of numerous ccTLDs).

That being said, it's always tough to knock off an incumbent government contractor and especially one that is itself a spin-off of well-known defence contractor Lockheed Martin which are both so deeply entrenched within the machinery of government. It's made even more difficult when NeuStar has not had any technical outages or major snafus, as far as I can recall, and in that sense is technically proficient. Given the heat civil servants and political appointees of the NTIA would take if something went wrong in transferring the usTLD registry operations to another contractor, they likely went with the incumbent to nullify that possibility. Where NeuStar has lacked is in its promotion and marketing of the usTLD, even the "www.neustar.us" website for the usTLD has stagnated and not been updated or issued a news release in at least three years. The "kids.us" restricted subdomain has also been really stagnant with zero growth and only a handful of domains, though that's likely the fault of the oppressively strict regulations the U.S. government has imposed on it.

All said, there wasn't anything really wrong with NeuStar. If anything, it's been the restrictions and contractual limitations imposed by the NTIA. Assuming NeuStar can implement a new sales & marketing strategy, launch a new website and adopt some of the elements of the Alliance Registry proposal, such as getting registry price concessions from the NTIA, I think it's a win-win situation for everyone. If they can't, there's a consolation — and it's a big one: the renewal is for three years, to Oct. 18th, 2010, with two back-to-back one-year renewal options. So, there are at least two opportunities for Alliance Registry to come back with new bids if NeuStar stumbles."

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