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<nettime> Comments of pgMedia, Inc. on the Green Paper

Before the
Washington, D.C.  20230

Improvement of Technical Management     )
of Internet Names and Addresses         )   Docket No. 980212036-8036-01
Proposed Rule                           )


	pgMedia, Inc. <>, respectfully
submits these comments on the "Green Paper" <
ntiahome/domainname/dnsdft.htm> released by the National
Telecommunications and Information Administration ("NTIA" or the
"Department") regarding management of the Internet Domain Name System


	NTIA's Green Paper proposes that certain key "centralized"
functions for DNS administration be transferred from Network Solutions.,
Inc. ("NSI") and the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority ("IANA") to a
new, not-for-profit corporation that will be governed by a broad
cross-section of Internet stakeholders.  This approach is clearly
preferable to the current DNS system, under which NSI enjoys monopoly
control of all generic top-level domains ("gTLDs"), including the huge
".com" registry, as well as the DNS "root" servers on which universal
Internet connectivity is based.  NTIA is plainly correct that
competition in domain name registration services, on the basis of shared
gTLDs, should be introduced as soon as possible.

	The new Internet governance structure contemplated by the Green
Paper would remove the anticompetitive incentives inherent in the
current DNS system, under which potential registry competitors must
depend on NSI, which controls the "essential facility" of the "A" root
server, for access to "the dot."  By contemplating a "set of
authoritative and consistent roots" managed by a competitively impartial
entity, instead of a single root server managed by a single commercial
enterprise, the Green Paper would place the root server resources -- and
with them the public interest requirement for universal resolvability of
all Internet domains -- beyond the threat of anticompetitive conduct or
catastrophic network failure.  Such a development would mean that the
customers of entrepreneurial registries such as pgMedia could, for the
first time, have a fair chance to become a true part of the global

	The Green Paper has a fatal flaw, however, in proposing that
only five new gTLDs be opened for competition in the period through
September 30, 1998.  NTIA apparently believes that such a restriction is
necessary (1) to assure technical "stability" of the Internet; (2) to
assist trademark holders in "policing" violations of their intellectual
property; and (3) to avoid "consumer confusion" from a proliferation of
gTLDs.  Even if the Commerce Department (or NTIA), let alone the United
Stated government, had the legal authority to impose a limit on the
number of new gTLDs -- which it does not -- none of these policy
justifications has any validity.

* As NSI itself has conceded, there "is no technical reason" why gTLDs
need to be limited, because "[d]omains are equally scaleable at all
levels of the DNS." The "dot" is, in reality, a simple 75K text file
that can easily be expanded to virtually unlimited size, and at least
comparable to the current ".com" zone file of 1.5 million entries.
Thus, there is no stability reason why the Green Paper must artificially
restrict the number of new gTLDs than can be added to the root servers,
especially in the short run.

* There is no difference between the Internet and any other medium of
communications (TV. magazines, billboards, etc.) with respect to
trademarks, because in each instance trademark owners have the
resources, and the legal power, to assert challenges to their legal
rights in any jurisdiction worldwide.   Consumers will not be more
confused by different gTLDs than they are today by the massive
proliferation of incrementally different second-level ".com" domains
(e.g.,, and; rather, the
introduction of new gTLDs (e.g., or caruso.florists)
could produce a new level of comprehension in consumer use of DNS.

In short, the Green Paper relies on misconceptions, unsubstantiated
fears and chimeras in support of its crucial finding that only five new
gTLDs should be added to the Internet root server system.

	pgMedia strongly  believes that, given the global nature of the
Internet and the status of gTLDs as global communications resources, the
U.S.  government does not have the legal authority to restrict
competition in top-level namespace on the Internet.  There is no
question that the Department of Commerce and NTIA lack any statutory
authority to promulgate rules restricting the opening of new gTLDs, and
that the National Science Foundation similarly has no authority to
override ordinary U.S. antitrust rules applicable to access to essential
facilities like the root servers maintained by NSI.  Therefore, it is
crucial that NTIA delete the third of the fourth functions it proposes
be delegated to the "new corporation," namely to determine "the
circumstances under which new top-level domains are added to the root
system." Consistent with the Green Paper's preference for market-based
solutions and bottom-up decision making, the NTIA should instead
conclude that -- in the absence of an affirmative showing by the new
corporation that technical considerations warrant a limit on gTLDs --
all gTLD registries which meet minimal technical standards must be added
to the root system.

	By eliminating any restriction on gTLDs and permitting future
limitations only based on documented technical constraints, the Green
Paper would meet its professed principles of introducing DNS competition
as fast as possible while preserving consensus-driven,
technically-objective Internet decision making.  DNS administration
should be as open, objective and competitively neutral as is the IETF
RFC process of Internet standards-setting.  The only way to achieve this
goal is to eliminate the political and competitive incentives inherent
in today's NSI monopoly of the "dot" while making gTLD competition a
matter of purely technical, not pseudo "policy," consideration.  After
that, the marketplace itself would determine -- as a result of consumer
demand -- which gTLDs are desirable and which registries, and
registrars, will succeed commercially.



	Universal resolvability can be achieved while allowing for
competition among domain name registries, thereby benefiting both the
content providers and the end-users of the Internet.  Likewise, the true
value of the Internet can only be realized if all addresses are
universally resolvable.  That is to say, pgMedia agrees with the
Department that the value attached to having a network of networks is
maximized only when the root server network is properly coordinated
allowing any user of the Internet to seamlessly access any site on the
Internet using that site's domain name.  To achieve universal
resolvability, domain names must be unique and the protocols used must
be standardized.

A.      The Internet Root Server (or The "Dot") Functions As The
"Traffic Cop" of the Internet, Allowing All Name Service Providers to
Look to Authoritative Servers for the "Zone" Files Necessary For a
Seamless Internet

	The "dot" file is a plain-text file used by the nameserver
software to define the available toplevel domains ("TLDs") to the rest
of the network.  Like all other "zone" files it contains the hostname to
IP address mapping that the nameserver uses to find and connect
computers over the network.  Specifically, the "dot" file lists each
available TLD and the names and addresses of the various nameservers
that carry the Second-Level-Domain ("SLD") listings under a particular
TLD.  The ROOT-SERVERS that run the "dot" file direct requests to the
appropriate TLD server which sends the request on to the Internet
service provider ("ISP") or network managing the listed SLD that then
returns the IP address for the requested domain name.  So, for example,
a request for "PGMEDIA.NET" would first be directed to the "dot" file
that would return the locations of the TLD server for ".NET."  The
request would then be forwarded to the ".NET" server which would return
the location of the nameserver for the SLD server for "PGMEDIA.NET"
which contains the name to IP number mapping for the pgMedia domain.

	Universal resolvability of TLD's requires that there exist an
authoritative file that will direct requests to the appropriate server
for any particular domain name request.  There is more than one possible
solution to achieving this goal.  The Department's Green Paper suggests
that the "dot" file be controlled by one entity.  However, due to recent
improvements in network administration technology, it is no longer
required that a single entity, alone, manage the "dot."  Decentralized
and synchronized administration of the "dot" file would be a far better
solution so long as there is free and open access by registries to the
"dot" file.  Under this model, the goal of competition in the domain
name registration market can be achieved while true universal
resolvability can be maintained.

B.      Root Server Functions For gTLDs Are Currently Monopolized By
NSI, Which Has Led to Significant Competitive Disparities

	NSI controls and profits from the administration of the gTLDs
(i.e. com, net, org, edu, int).  NSI also controls the "dot" that would
permit a gTLD to be universally resolvable.  The "dot" file is an
essential facility, because, the only alternative available to a
registry wishing to compete with NSI, without access to the "dot" file,
would be to create a new Internet.  pgMedia, through its
division has created a network of 13 nameservers in seven countries. currently offers registrations in more than 530 TLDs,
these names are fully resolvable by the nameservers, but
are not universally resolvable on the Internet because NSI has refused
to make the simple text edit to the "dot" file that would allow that
universal resolvability.

	pgMedia supports the Department's position that coordination of
root servers does not require a single "root," but rather consistent
technical standards for interoperability and symmetry of all servers so
as to maintain universal connectivity on the Internet.  Operators of
"dot" servers merely need to agree to run exact versions of the "dot"
file and to implement a secure system to keep the contents synchronized
whenever it is updated.

	SINDI(TM), developed by pgMedia, is software technology designed
to fulfill the function of keeping the name data synchronized in near
real-time with security and authentication built in.  This technology
allows multiple registries to simultaneously submit unique SLDs to any
TLD based a first come, first served basis, and to easily survey the
root file for existing TLDs.  Through deployment of technologies like
SINDI (TM), there is no need for monopoly control of the root server
functions to continue to be awarded to NSI.  Rather, registries around
the world would be free to amend the root file based on market demand.

C.      Transferring Control Of Root Servers To An Independent,
Non-Profit Corporation, With Wide Representation Is A Valid Approach To
Root Server Administration

	pgMedia supports any solution that would open the domain name
registration market to competition, so long as there is a
non-discriminatory and simple procedure for adding new TLDs.  As
discussed above, there no longer exists an explicit  technical need for
the root file to be managed by a single entity.  However, more
importantly, there are serious and pressing problems associated with
allowing the root server to be controlled by a private entity with a
vested interest.  NTIA's proposal to end NSI's monopoly control of the
root server through creation of a "private, not-for-profit corporation .
. . to manage the coordinated function in a stable and open
institutional framework," is right on target.  The root server is an
essential facility, access to which is required for participation in the
domain name business.  The Department's proposal would transfer control
of that essential facility to a non-profit organization created to serve
the best interests of the entire Internet community, not just one
company or set of companies.

	pgMedia agrees wholeheartedly with the Department that there is
no longer a need to propagate a domain name monopoly and the resultant
monopoly rents paid by Internet users every day.  In moving away from a
privately controlled arrangement, an independent, non-profit corporation
will remove the commercial conflict of interest that has been present to
date.  As a matter of policy, no registry should also control the root
server, and NTIA's proposal to separate the two is admirable.


	pgMedia believes that generic-TLDs should be shared among the
competing registries.  gTLDs are not the property of any entity,
including NSI.  The technology exists today to allow such sharing and
there is no public policy reason why such sharing should be restricted.
Although there are stakeholders who advocate a branded model for TLDs,
such a solution only benefits the registries that would then have
monopoly control over that particular TLD.  Rather, Internet users would
benefit the most from an open system of TLDs whereby each registry could
register new domain names under any existing or new TLDs.

A.      NTIA Correctly Adopted pgMedia's Approach of "Shared"
Registries, Under Which All gTLDs, Including Existing ".com" Registry,
Will Be Open To Competitive Registration of Second-Level Domains.

	pgMedia believes that all registries should compete on the basis
of service and price, thereby benefiting the users of the Internet
rather than developing a system of branded TLDs which would only benefit
the registries by creating an artificial shortage in the generic name
space.  NTIA correctly recognized the importance of competition in the
domain name registration industry in adopting a "shared registries"
concept in its proposed rule.  pgMedia urges the Department to retain
this fundamental improvement in any further rule.

	pgMedia has long supported shared gTLDs, and believes that gTLDs
are a public resource that should not be within the commercial or
competitive control of any one entity.   The Department should resist
creating new monopolies (in each new TLD) by giving a single registry
the sole right to register under any one TLD.  Such a proprietary system
would be akin to geographic market allocation--each registry would own a
series of TLDs over which it could exercise complete price and service
control.  To the extent that certain TLDs became recognized as the
market norm for an industry or organization, as is the case currently
with .com, users in need of domain names under those TLDs would be
forced to deal at whatever price demanded.  An open, market-driven
system on the other hand would require different registries to introduce
efficiencies, innovation and price reduction into the registration
services market in order to compete and survive. has already made numerous achievements and
improvements in registration services, even though its own registry does
not currently enjoy the market benefits of universal resolvability.
These include:

		a.      Instant, form based registration b.
Virtually instant updating of the zone files c.      Address portability
d.      "Smart" Whois ("sWhois") -- a software application that allows
cross-registry look-up capabilities e.      Secure Internet Name Data
Integrator (SINDI) f.      Lower prices for users

	These advantages are available today via the (SM)
system.  Competitive gTLDs are a technologically feasible reality, as
demonstrated by the over 500 gTLDs operated by (SM).  Shared
gTLD registration is also technically possible and competitively
preferable.  Although companies like pgMedia have been able to make
significant technological break-throughs in DNS administration despite
the existence of a blanketing monopolist, it is simply indisputable that
true competition in the domain name registry industry would result in
even greater technological improvements, leading to better services and
lower prices for consumers.


	The Department proposed a transitional limitation on the
addition of new gTLDs to a total five  NTIA's basis for this decision
was (1) concern regarding the stability of the Internet (2) the
potential impact of more new gTLDs on the trademark dispute process, and
(3) fears of exacerbated consumer confusion.  The Department was wrong
on all three issues.

	A.  There Are No Technical Restrictions to Increasing the Number
of gTLDs

	There are no technical constraints on the number of gTLDs that
can operate simultaneously on the Internet, and absolutely no basis for
any concern that expansion of the TLD name space will contribute even to
transitional instability of the Internet.  NSI readily agrees:

NSI believes that there is no technical reason why the number of
worldwide TLDs needs to be limited.  Domains are equally scalable at all
levels of the DNS.  There can be as many TLDs as there are potential
second-and third-level domains.

NSI Comments (August 18, 1998) at C-10.

	As NSI recognized, Dr. Paul Mockepetris, the inventor of the
Domain Name System ("DNS") is equally convinced that there exists no
technical reason for limiting the number of new TLDs.  "DNS is highly
scalable. There is no technical limit to the number of new top-level
names that could be introduced. The original designer of DNS, Paul
Mockapetris, has verified the scalability of DNS. As well, America
Online's eight million-plus third-level domains are also evidence of DNS
scalability. There may be some practical and operational issues to the
introduction of new TLDs, but we should be very suspicious of those that
seek t control, limit and administer TLDs under the false pretense of
technical feasibility."

	(Internet Domain Name System: Myths and Facts, NSI 6/18/97

pgMedia has already proven that such expansion of the TLD namespace is
possible.  The registry (SM) has been servicing many hundreds
of new TLDs for over one and one half years with no problem or
interruption in service.  The same cannot be said for NSI who's
antiquated update procedures led to the catastrophic failure of DNS last

	The technical explanation for the feasibility of TLD expansion
is simple.  Behind the current "" or "dot" file, which lists
the currently recognized toplevel domains, is simply a 75K text file;
updating the file for new gTLDs is  technically trivial and transparent
to the end users--new toplevel namespaces will simply become available
and functional just as any new country code or new second level domain
becomes transparently available as changes are made to the DNS listings
on a daily basis without interruption of service or other noticeable

	For example, the current zone file for ".com" contains over 1.5
million entries and can scale indefinitely.  The structure of all
zonefiles is identical and used in the same way by the software.  Thus,
structurally, the "" file and the "com" file are identical and
the number of possible toplevel domains is equally as scaleable as is
any other zone file in the existing DNS system.  Therefore, to the
extent the DNS can handle over 1.5 million registrations under the TLD
".com," there is no reason it cannot handle as many new gTLDs.

	The record before the Department from the August comments does
not support any technical rationale substantiating NTIA's conclusion
that the number of gTLDs in the short run "should not be so large as to
destabilize the Internet."  As stated above, there is literally as much
of a technical basis to limit the total number of gTLDs as there is to
limit the number of entries under the ".com" TLD.

	Hence, there is no justification for NTIA's proposals that:

1.      There be a completely arbitrary limit of five new gTLDs between
now and 9/98

2.      The new non-profit corporation should set policies for
determining "the circumstances under which new top-level domains are
added to the root system"

	Any gTLD administered by a technically competent registry should
be included in the root server system.  At most, any non-profit
corporation established by the Department should set minimum technical
criteria for gTLD registries, per existing RFCs covering name service.

B.      Trademark Disputes Do Not Involve DNS Registries, and Do Not
Provide a Technical Impediment to Allowing New gTLDs

	pgMedia agrees with the Department's characterization that
"trademark disputes arise very rarely on the Internet today," and that
"management of the Internet must respond to the needs of the Internet
community as a whole, and not trademark owners exclusively."

	However, pgMedia disagrees with the Department's determination
that increasing the number of gTLDs would make it more difficult for
trademark holders to protect their marks.  The addition of new domain
names would have zero impact on trademark prosecution..  The addition of
new TLDs would not slow the search of domain name databases for
trademark violations any more than the addition of new domain names
under an existing TLD would.  Any claim to the contrary is merely an
effort to drag TLD registries into a fight that belongs solely to
trademark owners.

	As is the case now, trademark owners should continue to be
required to police and prosecute their rights under their own devices.
There is no other communications medium where those involved in
providing the communication are responsible for participating in
trademark policing or prosecution.  The proliferation of other
communications mediums, such as television or radio, has never been
slowed or diluted to allow trademark owners an easier time of protecting
their rights.  In fact, it is the ubiquity of the medium, in this case
the addition of thousands of new gTLDs, that gives mark owners the
opportunity to add national and international value to their brand
names.  Rather than complain about this windfall, and the offsetting
costs associated with tracking the worldwide exposure to their brand,
trademark owners should be encouraging the immediate transition to an
open gTLD system.

	C.      The Addition of New gTLDs Will Not Impact Consumer

	Even with a limited number of gTLDs, there currently exist an
infinite number of lower level domain name combinations that can
registered and employed by interested parties.  Registrants are free to
use virtually any second, third, fourth, etc., level domain name, so
long as it has not been previously registered.  It is therefore
inconceivable that the addition of new gTLDs will somehow make consumer
use of the Internet more difficult to employ.  There is no substantive
difference between the existing possibilities for confusion associated
with an unlimited number of lower level domain names ( vs. vs. and those that might be found under
a rubric of varied TLDs ( vs.

	Rather, the recognition of specific domain names will be a
function of advertisement and public awareness, as it is now.  A few
short years ago, few consumers knew what an Internet address was.
Today, many, if not most, could not even name the five basic gTLDs, or
even realize that there are gTLDs available for every country in the
world.  How can the addition new gTLDs be any more confusing than the
existing fact that .za refers to South Africa?

	Despite the confusion associated with the existing system,
through advertising and repeated use, consumers are becoming more and
more comfortable maneuvering on the web and locating the destinations of
their choice.  So too, in a world of many gTLDs, hosts will advertise
and consumers will browse, and means for reaching each other will
evolve.  To the extent such a transition may cause some initial
disruption, it is far better that it occur earlier in the growth of the
Internet than later, when habits and customs will be more entrenched.
More importantly, any minimal confusion that might occur in a multi-TLD
environment that doesn't occur now, is more than offset by the
advantages to consumers that true competition in the domain name
industry will bring.


	There exists no statutory or other authority that would permit
the Department of Commerce or the United States Government to limit the
number of new TLDs.  If anything, Congress has expressed a clear
interest in leaving the Internet unregulated.

It is the policy of the United States-

	(2) to preserve the vibrant and competitive free market that
presently exists for the Internet and other interactive computer
services, unfettered by Federal or State regulation.  47 U.S.C. 
230(b)(2) (emphasis supplied).

While the Telecommunications Act of 1996 did not specifically address
the domain name issue, it is clear that the Congresses' twin goals of
deregulation and new competition would be severely undermined if the
Department were to propagate some sort of "transitional" regulation
regarding the number of  new gTLDs that may be added to the root file.

	pgMedia is sympathetic with NTIA's concern regarding
coordination of essential Internet functions, but the agency, and for
that matter, the entire US government, lacks the power to control the
number of gTLDs, even in the short run.  gTLDs are not a United States',
but rather a global resource.  The U.S.  lacks the authority, under the
U.N. charter and customary international law, to unilaterally assert
extra-territorial jurisdiction by restricting the number of gTLDs.  As
policy matter, exclusion of EU and other nations from policy process
could lead to costly fragmentation of the Internet community.

	Historically, NSI has operated root servers pursuant to a
"cooperative agreement" contract with the National Science Foundation
("NSF"), but neither that contract, nor NSF's statutory charter, grant
either NSI or NSF the legal authority to restrict gTLDs and exclude
competitors from the existing root server system.  NSF Cooperative
Agreement No. NCR-9218742.  However, that is exactly what is currently
happening, and, unfortunately, is what the Department proposed in the
Green Paper when it suggested that only five gTLDs be added to the DNS.

	The cooperative agreement between Network Solutions and The
National Science Foundation leaves NSI with the power to implement new
naming schemes or systems without seeking the approval of the NSF.  NSI
has improperly used this NSF agreement to perpetuate its monopoly and to
prevent competition so as to continue its substantial profits derived
from domain name registrations.  According to NSI's own figures there
are some 120,000 new domain name registrations per month equaling $
12,000,000 in gross revenues per month.  pgMedia believes that the
arguments advanced by NSI have been calculated to protect this lucrative
monopoly position for as long as possible.  By restricting the creation
of new TLDs the Department of Commerce would be an unwilling accomplice
in this bilking of the Internet community.

	Congress has not granted either the Department of Commerce or
NTIA the authority to constrain competition in the Internet.   Congress
created NTIA for the purpose of managing federal government's radio
spectrum and advise the President on telecommunications policy.  47
U.S.C.  902 (b).  In addition, NTIA is given authority to "conduct
studies and make recommendations concerning the impact of the
convergence of computer and communications technology." 47 U.S.C.   902
(b)(2)(M).  Neither this nor NTIA's authority regarding
telecommunications policies give it the right to restrain competition by
restricting the number of gTLDs that may be added to the DNS.
Similarly, the general regulatory authority granted to the Department of
Commerce by Congress neither directly grants the Department regulatory
authority over the Internet, nor expressly grants the Department the
right to restrict competition.  Therefore, any rule promulgated by the
NTIA limiting the creation of new gTLDs would be ultra-vires.


	The Internet is "a unique and wholly new medium of worldwide
human communication," Reno v. ACLU, 117 S.Ct. 2329, 2334 (1997), that
"represent[s] an extraordinary advance in the availability of
educational and informational resources to our citizens," 47 U.S.C.A. 
230(a)(1).  As such, the Internet as a method of communication receives
heightened protection under the First Amendment from restriction of the
content it transmits.  Reno, 117 S.Ct. 2329, 2334.

	And, a domain name is more then the address for a site on the
Internet.  The domain name may be imbued with an idea or indication of
the material to be found at the particular Internet site.  pgMedia
agrees with the Domain Name Rights Coalition ("DNRC"), that, at a
minimum, "domain names are the identifiers used to designate and locate
expression and communication."  Limiting the number of TLDs limits the
way in which content providers on the Internet can express these ideas.
In the (SM) system a candidate for political office may
register their name in the following fashion "gore.for.president;" while
in the current system, or the system proposed in the "Green Paper," this
simple form of political speech would be impossible.

	It is well settled law that for the government to limit a
fundamental right, such as speech, it must first demonstrate 1) a
compelling governmental interest that would be served by the regulation,
and 2) that there exists no less restrictive method for achieving the
governmental objective. See Sable Communications, Inc. v. FCC, 492 U.S.
115, 126 (1989).  Absent any technical constraints on the expansion of
the top-level name space, there is no compelling governmental interest
that would be served by preventing pgMedia from offering domain name
registrations under its expanded list of gTLDs.  Moreover, even if there
were a compelling governmental objective to be served by regulating the
top-level name space, limiting the expansion to only five TLDs would by
no means be the least restrictive alternative available.  Therefore, any
attempt by the Department to limit the expansion of the top-level name
space would violate the First Amendment.

CONCLUSION For the reasons stated above, pgMedia urges the Department to
(1) abandon any effort to restrict the number of gTLDs that may be added
to the DNS; (2) continue to support the creation of a non-profit
organization to serve as neutral administrator of the root server,
thereby separating the root administration services from registry
services; and (3) continue to support a policy of shared rather than
proprietary gTLDs, whereby true competition can work to lower domain
name prices and improve services.  Respectfully submitted,

	By:_______________________ Paul Garrin, President Paul Kalocsay
pgMedia, Inc.  11 East 4th Street, 2F New York, NY 10003 212.677.4080

Dated:  March 23, 1998.
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