ICANN pulled the plug on AlpNames yesterday. The action was swift and from informal conversations I’ve had with multiple registrars it’s pretty clear that very few people will mourn their demise.
But what will happen with the domains currently linked to AlpNames? ICANN has a process for moving the names of a de-accredited registrar to a new home. Normally ICANN staff would work with the failing registrar to move the names to a company that they have chosen themselves, but when that isn’t possible they put a request out to all registrars. If you look at what happened in previous instances it’s fairly clear that there’s a preference to keep them within the region if possible. Other factors like language support, company size and other matters come into play as well.
ICANN has emailed all registrars to see if anyone is interested in taking on the domains. By various estimations there’s probably less than 700 thousand names there, mostly in new TLDs. As of January AlpNames had just over 20 thousand .com names, under 800 .net, under 600 .org and less than 100 .biz.
Looking at the data over on nTLDStats it’s clear that they were still processing fairly high volumes of registration up until .a few days ago. But how many of those names are going to be of any “quality”? With the levels of DNS abuse associated with AlapNames it’s quite likely that a very large number of the names would end up being suspended if the gaining registrar triggered their normal registrant validation process.
The impact of AlpNames’ demise will probably be felt most by some of the new TLD registries who will end up losing a significant percentage of their zones if the names are suspended or simply not renewed. In the case of .gdn, for example, AlpNames was not only their largest registrar, but also had close to 70% of the namespace.
While it’s likely that somebody will eventually step in to pick up the AlpNames portfolio I doubt that many registrars are going to be that interested.