Tucows, the international network of freeware and shareware distribution sites, has recently announced the November 15th launch of a service that they call OpenSRS, or Shared Registration System.

What's interesting about Tucows' foray into the domain registration business is that they plan to open domain registration to anybody that wants to register domains for third parties. Using Tucows' backend and API, non-ICAAN-affiliated third parties can write client applications to directly register domain names in the NSI domain registry. Tucows will be leveraging a "wholesale" fee of only USD 13 for each registration.

This approach opens up competition in the domain registration market in a way that has previously only been speculated at, and has only been recently made possible by the drop in price of a domain name (for ICAAN affiliates) to USD 6. By positioning itself as an ICAAN acredited reseller of domains, Tucows stands to reap enormous benefits from resellers seeking the best prices to pass on to customers. It is highly probable that customers may now be able to buy domain names from as little as USD 20-25.

However, given the registration problems that other ICAAN-accredited organisations have had with Network Solutions, it remains to be seen whether Tucows will, initially, be able to offer a competitive service in comparison with other domain registrars who have already overcome their teething problems. If Tucows can offer a relatively stable service, we may be seeing the beginning of a new era in competition amoungst domain registration services.