Afilias has served as technical service provider for India’s .in domain since 2005. This contract ends late this year, so the National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI) opened a bidding process. In addition to Afilias, competitor Neustar also submitted a bid.
NIXI found both bidders to be equally qualified from a technical standpoint, but Neustar’s bid was lower: 0.70 USD per domain, compared to Afilias’ proposal of 1.65 USD per domain. NIXI issued a letter of intent to award the contract to Neustar.
One criteria for bidding is that the provider have the ability to support domain names in all 22 official Indian languages. Afilias alleges that Neustar did not possess this capacity at the time their bid was submitted, and thus their bid should not have been considered.
Afilias states that they made their concerns known to NIXI directly on two occasions in July. According to sources that spoke with the local outlet Moneyline, some NIXI board members also expressed concern about Neustar’s bid and the manner in which the bidding process was conducted in general.
Unable to reach a compromise with NIXI, Afilias has proceeded to file a writ petition in the Indian High Court.
No information is publicly available as to when a transition to Neustar might begin, nor what type of intervention Afilias is seeking from the local courts, so this is a story in development.
Stepping back, the conflict can be viewed as part of the growing competition between these two providers for ccTLD operation contracts; Australia’s .au recently switched in the other direction, going from Neustar to Afilias.
Another context worth considering is that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Digital India initiative is projected to generate a significant number of new, .in registrations.