Cloudflare is to take over registry services for the US government’s .gov domain, ending Verisign’s 12-year run.
It seems .gov manager CISA, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, opened the contract up for bidding last August and awarded it to Cloudflare in mid-December.
The deal is worth $7.2 million, Cloudflare said in a press release on Friday, which is more than twice as much as Verisign charged when it took over the .gov back-end in 2011.
But it seems the deal includes Cloudflare providing authoritative DNS for .gov domains, something Verisign does not currently provide the TLD, in addition to managing the zone file, registry, Whois, etc.
It’s not clear who’s running the exclusive .gov registrar, but CISA appears to be building a new one.
.gov domains are only available to US federal, state, tribal and local government organizations, and there was a $400-a-year fee until April 2021, when CISA made them free to register.
There are about 8,600 .gov domains today. Not a lot, but the deal comes with bragging rights.
CISA took over .gov from the General Services Administration in March 2021 and dropped the fees a month later.
It’s not clear whether Verisign had bid for a renewed contract or simply walked away, as it did when it conceded .tv to GoDaddy last year. I’ve asked the company for comment.
The loss of .gov is obviously a drop in the ocean compared to .com, which continues to make Verisign one of world’s most-profitable companies.
While it’s an ICANN-accredited registrar, I believe this is Cloudflare’s first foray into registry services. Might we see the company as an emergent threat to the established players in the next new gTLD round? It’s certainly looking that way.
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