CEO Roundtable III: ccTLDs and the DNS Sector

by Fadi Chehadé on March 18, 2013

I was pleased to have the opportunity last week to meet with a group of ccTLDs in London, as part of a series of CEO Roundtables centered on strategic issues faced by the Domain Name System (DNS) sector.

This roundtable served as a forum for the ccTLDs, from a diverse set of countries, to provide insights about the unique and influential role they play in the DNS ecosystem. I was thankful for the rich dialogue that resulted and which explored the quality of the operational and security functions ccTLDs perform to serve their users and citizens, all within the framework of policies and requirements of their own countries. In addition, the roundtable allowed for valuable feedback and for us to explore ways to enhance our relationship.

Another objective was to consider DNS developments, such as the introduction of new gTLDs, and the rapid pace of innovation within the sector and how this will influence ccTLDs. We also addressed potential challenges to the multistakeholder model of Internet governance in the context of the needs of the next billion Internet users who are scheduled to come online.

I briefed them on a number of ICANN’s operational priorities, as well as the work being undertaken by the registry and the registrar CEOs who participated in last month’s roundtables. Other topics included: 1) the reputational risks and opportunities for ccTLDs and the domain name industry from a media perspective; 2) statistical trends and the interplay between gTLD market changes and ccTLDs over the years; and 3) options for using infographic tools to depict and explain the role of the ccTLDs in the DNS sector.

Something of tremendous importance, which I stressed in my conversations with the ccTLD CEOs, and that I would like to ensure is communicated more broadly: ICANN’s focus should not be on the amount of ccTLD financial contributions, rather emphasis needs to be placed on areas where we can collaborate, as true partners. Working together must take priority over financial considerations that have been stumbling blocks in the past. We share a common goal of bringing value to the Internet and its users – individuals, businesses, citizens and organizations – that is possible through cooperation, alignment of our technical and operational performance, and support of the multistakeholder model.

While the drivers of ccTLD performance cannot be entirely decoupled from the performance of gTLDs, and the DNS sector as a whole, they do have many areas of differentiation. Among the issues we explored is ccTLDs’ focus on the public interest through their role as national entities and in relation to larger, more global economic and social trends.

I am grateful to the CEOs for their participation and look forward to continuing our efforts at a DNS Summit, which will take place next month and will serve as the culminating event for this roundtable series.

CEO Roundtable III: ccTLDs and the DNS Sector

Roundtable participants (as pictured) include:

Back Row (from left to right):

David Olive, Vice President, Policy Development Support, ICANN
Frederico Neves, CTO, NIC.br
Roelof Meijer, CEO, SIDN
Xiaodong Lee, CEO, CNNIC
Mathieu Weill, CEO, AFNIC
Chris Disspain, CEO, auDA
Bart Boswinkel, Senior Director, ccNSO Policy Development Support, ICANN
Byron Holland, CEO, CIRA
Richard Wein, CEO, nic.at

Front Row (from left to right):

Sally Costerton, Senior Advisor to the President, Global Stakeholder Engagement, ICANN
Rosalía Morales A., Executive Director, NIC Costa Rica
Sabine Dolderer, CEO, DENIC eG
Lesley Cowley, CEO, Nominet
Lim Choon Sai, General Manager, SGNIC
Marc Van Wesemael, CEO, EURid
Fadi Chehadé, President and CEO, ICANN

This event was part of an ongoing series of small roundtable gatherings with CEOs that will continue in the future. For this particular roundtable, participants represented members and nonmembers of the ccNSO, and were from both smaller and larger-sized ccTLDs. Unfortunately, not all of the invitees could attend. Yet, we were fortunate to be joined by leaders from Latin America, Asia-Pacific, Europe, North America, and the Caribbean.


Reaction from the meeting participants confirming ICANN’s commitment to the public interest include:

“The meeting was dense and fruitful thanks to the very professional preparation by ICANN and the sincere and open manner in which participants, starting with Fadi Chehadé, were engaged. This is a great illustration of how ccTLDs and ICANN can engage in constructive and attentive partnerships.”

- Mathieu Weill, CEO, AFNIC

“It was a pleasure to attend this meaningful session and I congratulate ICANN CEO Fadi Chahedé for his leadership and commitment in reaching out to the ccTLD Managers. I am heartened that he would like to learn and obtain our advice in our roles as ccTLD Managers in meeting the needs of local stakeholders and in serving public interest. The session also allowed us to hear from him his concern and priority in steering the ICANN and to explore how best ccTLDs and other ICANN communities can work together to bring value to Internet and its users.”

- Choon Sai, General Manager, SGNIC

“It was a pleasure to attend the ccTLD CEO roundtable and have the opportunity to discuss the main issues affecting our industry with senior members of the ICANN staff. I congratulate Fadi’s effort to include the community in the future work plans of ICANN’s strategy and to promote an open dialogue with the key players in the DNS industry. The discussions were fruitful, engaging and demonstrate ICANN’s global perspective.”

- Rosalía Morales A., Executive Director, NIC Costa Rica

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Nigel Roberts 03.19.13 at 3:55 am

Much as I REALLY respect what Fadi’s doing with ICANN, I have to say that from a perception point of view, I feel this was also a little bit of an ‘own goal’ despite its success.

To me at least, and probably, to other small ccTLDs, and although I am sure I am sure that was not the intention., it comes across mildly hat ICANN is taking the views of the large ccTLDs (such as .UK and .DE) more seriously and gives them more weight than small ccTLDs. The ‘invited persons only’ nature of this does make some of us feel that ICANN sees small TLDs as second-class citizens.

Unless of course you decide to repeat the exercise and invite the small-fry next time?

Please have more though if you really want to hear the views of ALL ccTLDs — we are diverse bunch and the views of small TLDs need to be heard.

Nigel Roberts, CI Domain Registry Ltd – http://www.channelisles.net
(providing backend registry services to GG, JE and AS)

Anthony N. Wambugu 03.20.13 at 8:02 am

I agree with Nigel but only to a point. ICANN is reaching out and that’s a great thing, because everything must start from somewhere. I was privileged to meet Fadi in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia two weeks ago and I could see the passion in him and the direction he wants to take with regard to struggling ccTLDs. Fadi if you read this I am the guy who gave the Coke story.

That said and done it is the responsibility of ccTLDs to formulate strategies that work and that deliver. I took over my ccTLD six months ago, and I am a banker by profession, and we have been able to grow 3000 domains within this period. This by any standards, in Africa, is amazing and ICANN did not help me. We all know our houses: when there’s a leak in the pipes you’re faced with three options;
1) replace the entire system – because you have the money to do so
2) call a plumber – you have a bit of money to spare
3) Do It Yourself – you know why

I am challenging the ccTLDs that call themselves small to stop looking at ICANN as a means to solving their issues and get down to why they are struggling. We did this in Kenya and it’s working and I’ve not been called to a round table, I can just skype Fadi.
‘Necessity is the mother of invention’

I am sorry Nigel, I am just blunt sometimes.

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