Verisign announced in June ICANN has renewed their .net Registry Agreement for another 6 years, meaning they will continue to operate .net until 30 June 2023, with the expectation the agreement will be renewed in 2023 “so long as certain requirements are met”.
As part of the agreement, Verisign is entitled to increase the fee they charge to registrars by up to 10% each year, as long as 6 months’ notice is given. And they have done just that. In their second quarter results released in late July, Verisign announced the first of these increases, with their annual fee increasing from $8.20 to $9.02 as of 1 February 2018. Registrants can avoid the increase if they renew or register their .net domain names prior to this date. It is expected Verisign will take advantage of the maximum allowable increase each year.
The increases are unlikely to do anything to boost registration numbers. While registration growth for many top level domains is dropping, and in some case total domains under management is dropping, the number of .net domain names is more or less the same as they were 4.5 years ago. There was a temporary increase of a few hundred thousand in late 2015 following a promotion, a drop a year or so later, and since then a gradual decline, according to RegistrarStats.com.