resource can be said to be scarce. A similar consideration arises in the case of existing resources. In 2005
ICANN needs to exercise an allocative choice in regard to the registry which has responsibility for
When OECD countries allocate resources they have certain common objectives irrespective of the
method chosen. These can include efficient allocation of a resource and efficient use of that resource,
transparency in the award of a resource, non discrimination, and the creation of appropriate conditions for
market competition. There may also be other wider economic and social objectives. Through statements
and actions it is clear that ICANN shares the ideals inherent in these objectives. ICANN has responsible
for Internet Protocol (IP) address space allocation, protocol identifier assignment, Top Level Domain name
system management, and root server system management functions. As the body primarily responsibility
for this technical co ordination it might be argued that ICANN's remit is a technical and economic one in
respect to resource allocation. Some broader factors, such as the aim for geographical diversity, do play a
part in forming the criteria for ICANN's decision making.
An allocation process, in the case of for profit registries, will be efficient if it allocates resources to
those firms who value them most. The value of the resource to such a firm is represented by the future
returns that this firm expects to get if awarded a gTLD. These returns (profit) depend on several factors
The firm's own characteristics such as cost, financial situation, ability to innovate and so on.
The characteristics of competitors as this will be an important determinant of market shares and
The characteristics of the market such as user demand, and expectations for future service
The performance of financial markets as it will affect registries' financial situation and
possibilities as they rely for their investments on such markets.
The firm has certain knowledge only for a few of these factors. This implies that there is uncertainty
in terms of the value of the resource for any potential registry. Nevertheless, based on their knowledge of
their own cost structure, expected price structures and assessment of market demand, a prospective registry
is in a better position to assess the value of a new gTLD than other parties including ICANN. It is a
legitimate assumption to believe that the best firms will place the highest value on a resource, where best
refers to firms with lower costs and a greater ability to innovate and remain competitive.
In an auction the decision on the price paid, for the right to operate a new gTLD, is made by a
prospective registry. It is also through these bids that firms determine who will exploit the resource being
created or reallocated by ICANN in a transparent way. A comparative selection procedure generally leaves
price decisions and allocation decisions to administrative discretion. The price placed on the resource is
either decided on a cost recovery basis or a subjective assessment of its value. An allocation under a
comparative selection procedure may involve a price mechanism, in the case of the DNS market structure,
if the criterion of the maximum price a registry is prepared to charge registrars is considered.
It is important to note that the difference between auctions and comparative selection procedures is
not as marked as it may seem at first sight. Auctions may still require participants to satisfy a certain set of
technical and service parameters (
pre qualification). Similarly, one of the criteria in a comparative