VeriSign has won its bid to continue managing the .net registry, home to more than five million internet domains, for the next five years, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) announced this week.
VeriSign, which has operated the .net registry since May 2001, beat four other bidders during a process that began in March 2004. VeriSign also operates the .com domain name.
Four challengers to VeriSign threw their hats into the ring when ICANN issued a request for proposals on the new .net contract: Dublin-based registry services provider Afilias, Sentan Registry Services, Core++, representing a consortium of partners from various businesses providing registry management services, and German domain registry Denic.
VeriSign, in a statement, said it was "gratified" to be chosen again and recognised for its "stellar" performance. The company said it would not "rest on its laurels," but instead work with ICANN and the internet community to expand the .net domain and improve its reliability.
In January, Telcordia Technologies, an independent consulting firm hired by ICANN to evaluate the five bids, picked VeriSign as slightly better than the other four, based on its experience and the price of its bid. VeriSign exceeded expectations in 14 high-priority categories, Telcordia said. ICANN said then it would begin negotiations with the leading bidder.
Rivals had complained about Telcordia's evaluation, but ICANN said its board considered the entire bidding process, the Telcordia report, internet community comments and the terms of the new agreement, according to a press release. ICANN is the nonprofit organization that oversees technical matters related to the Internet.
VeriSign earns an estimated $26m (£14m) a year for operating the .net domain, according to analysis by Legg Mason. The .net domain supports more than $700bn (£380bn) in e-commerce, as well as three trillion Web page views, a year, according to VeriSign.
VeriSign's old .net contract with ICANN was set to expire 30 June.