We’re Moving!

It’s good to be a specialist in the domain name industry.  Even the largest of registrars prefer to outsource country-specific tasks, so there’s always a market for efficient ccTLD fulfillment services.

Toweb has occupied this niche for the past ten years and enjoyed serving our unique space.  The work is fulfilling and we’ve played our part in ambitious projects undertaken by the biggest players in the industry. A role we have been proud to play. 

While we surely could continue on this niche path, Toweb has chosen to combine our operations with RRPproxy, a longtime partner.  This decision was made from a position of shared strength to best maximize our expertise and support our clients.

In combining our expertise with the RRPproxy team, we are set to provide you all the reliable services and added capacity one would expect from a larger group. Our customers will have access to products they otherwise would not have the opportunity to activate with us alone. By joining RRPproxy, work can be best allocated to those that excel with specific skills, including our team with our unique knowledge and expertise to help you when you need it. 

Our sense of stability and pride in a well-earned reputation is extremely important to us. Know that the confidence we have earned from you means everything to us and we’ll continue working to earn it everyday as part of RRPproxy. 

Thank you for an unforgettable ten years,

Your Toweb Team


Please note, in the near future we will begin directing this website to RRPproxy.

RRP Autolink

.ar / GA Set for September 15

One year after the first .ar domains were registered in Sunrise, next week it will finally be possible for the general public to register second-level Argentine domains.

Starting at midnight on September 15, NIC AR will open up registration at the second level (ex. mydomain.ar) without the registrant having met any particular conditions. This was originally scheduled to occur in March, but had to be delayed.

We’ve been preparing for this moment for a while and many clients have already submitted preorders. If you didn’t get a chance to place a preorder, there is no longer a need to do so via any special procedure: Simply request the domain in our interface as you would any other new registration. If the system tells you the domain is taken, then you know it’s already been requested by another customer. If your order is accepted, that means we’ll attempt to register the domain for you at midnight on the 15th.

As with other preordering periods at Toweb, there’s no additional fee to request a domain in advance and we will refund the entirety of the registration fee for domains that we’re not able to acquire.

Other considerations for those preparing to place orders for .ar domains next week:

— Four characters is the minimum length

— There is no blocking mechanism in place to prevent registrations when another entity holds a matching domain under .com.ar.

— Unlike domains acquired during Sunrise and Landrush, which cannot be transferred for two years, there is nothing preventing the registrant from transferring domains registered during GA. In other words, there’s nothing stopping you from selling .ar domains acquired in GA on the secondary market.

— There is a long list of restricted/reserved domains that can be found here.

Although participation in Sunrise and Landrush was high, there are plenty of good names available. This is evidenced by our high volume of pre-orders, which is far greater than orders received during the previous two launch phases. We recommend ordering domains in advance during the next few days, as opposed to waiting until the 15th or later.

.dz / Local Presence Now Mandatory

International law firm Hogan Lovells recently published an article reporting significant changes to the registration policy of Algeria’s ccTLD.

While we were unable to locate the updated policy document, the source is beyond reproach and we felt it was pertinent to relay the relevant details in this space.

Most of the 12.000 active domains are second-level registrations (ex. domain.dz), whereas third-level extensions such as .com.dz and .net.dz are also in use.  Previously, foreign trademark holders could register either at the second or third level.

It will no longer be possible for foreign trademark holders to register new .dz domains under any extension, except for a third-level extension specifically for such registrants: .tm.dz.

From the Hogan Lovells article, we know that two safeguards are in place to protect the interest of foreign trademark holders:

— Existing domains belonging to such entities will not be cancelled.  It will be possible to renew them, although modifications are not allowed.

— If a foreign trademark holder registers a .tm.dz domain today, that entitles them to register the matching, second-level .dz domain.

Unfortunately, the article doesn’t nail either of these down completely.  The ban on modification of existing domains could refer to contacts, nameservers or both.  Also, it’s not clear if a .tm.dz registration effectively blocks the matching .dz from ever being registered, or rather if it’s a more limited protection.

We’ll work to fill in these knowledge gaps, but in the meantime would reccomend a .tm.dz registration for entities thinking about defensive registrations in Algeria.  Pricing falls in the 50-100 USD range.

 

.za / Price Increase Likely

ZADNA, the ccTLD manager for South Africa has requested public comment on a proposal to raise the wholesale price for .co.za from 45 to 55 ZAR, an increase of roughly 0.6 USD.

For .za, the ccTLD manager and registry operator are two separate organizations.  The ccTLD is delegated to ZADNA, which serves as “statutory regulator.”  ZADNA licenses registries for different second-level domains, among which .co.za is the most common.  The license to operate .co.za (among others) is held by another South African non-profit, called ZACR.

Pricing is controlled by ZADNA on two fronts:  They decide the price that ZACR must pay for each .co.za domain and also determine the price at which ZACR sells to its registrars.  This model has created conflict between the two organizations on at least one occasion:  In 2016, ZACR requested arbitration when ZADNA increased its fee without allowing for a higher price to be charged to registrars.

There is no such conflict this time around.  A few weeks after ZADNA put out the call for comment, ZACR released a statement in favor of the increase.

The call for comment is impartial and presents three options with regards to the wholesale price for .co.za:  Increase, decrease and keep the same.  However, the local tech news outlet MyBroadband makes a compelling case that the increase is likely.  Their reasoning:

— When ZACR entered into arbitration with ZADNA, the wholesale price was frozen while the matter was under review

— ZACR lost the arbitration and the price increase was applied retroactively, leaving the organization with a debt to ZADNA

— A price increase for registrars with no corresponding increase to cost is the logical move for ZADNA to take to assist ZACR in resolving this debt.

The window for public comment on proposed changes to wholesale pricing ends on June 30.  Any changes that ZADNA decides to make would logically not go into effect immediately, so we’re still looking at a fairly long time before registrars would start paying higher prices.

In cases like these, Toweb makes every effort to absorb reigstry price increases without raising clients’ pricing.  Unless that proves impossible, customers currently managing .co.za domains with us will not receive any notice about changes in conditions for this TLD and everything will continue as before.

.il / IDN Variant Approved

Israel is to become the 43rd country to have an IDN variant of its ccTLD.

On May 19, ICANN announced the successful string evaluation for .ישראל, or .xn--4dbrk0ce in punycode. This is the Hebrew text for “Israel.”

The application adhered to ICANN’s Fast Track Process and was submitted by the same organization that operates the .il registry: ISOC-IL. The application was supported by the Israeli Ministry of Communication, in a statement that can be found here.

In a statement to the Jerusalem Post, Yoram Hacohen, CEO of ISOC-IL, said that the .ישראל extension “will open up for Internet users in Israel a new layer of activity and access in the language spoken by the people.”

There are currently around 250.000 domains under .il. Russia, arguably the best example of a successful introduction of an IDN ccTLD, has 5.7 MM domains under .ru and another 900.000 under the Russian variant .xn--p1ai (.рф). Applying that same ratio, in a best case scenario we could see around 40.000 domains registered under .xn--4dbrk0ce (.ישראל).

However, that may be a bit optimistic. Applying the ratio from China, a country whose IDN ccTLD has seen moderate success, the projection isn’t so rosy. There are 23MM .cn domains and another 200.000 under .xn--fiqs8s (.中国), yielding a ratio of 115:1. Applied to Israel, that would mean only a zone size of only around 2000 for .xn--4dbrk0ce (.ישראל).

The examples of Russia and China are offered only as a base-level comparison. Whether .xn--4dbrk0ce (.ישראל) becomes a relevant extension is not simply a function of the .il zone size, but rather will depend on how it is marketed. Bundling the Latin-script ccTLD with its IDN variant, as was done in Taiwan, is the surest way to put domains in the hands of local users.

There are no details on the launch of .xn--4dbrk0ce (.ישראל). Should it be available in some capacity to international users, of if there is a special allocation to .co.il registrants, we will update this space to provide the relevant information.

.ss / Launch Schedule

Last February, we wrote a post about the most-recent ccTLD to be added to the root zone:  .ss (South Sudan).  Now a little over a year later, the registry has announced the rules and schedule for launch.

  • Sunrise  /  June 1 – July 15
  • Landrush  /  July 17 – August 17
  • EAP  /  August 19-29
  • GA  /  September 1

After reviewing the registry’s policies, we can confirm that this TLD will be unrestricted and no documentation will be requested to register domains.

The launch process is straightforward and consistent with industry standards:  Sunrise is only from trademark holders, whereas the remainder of the stages are open to all applicants.  Multiple requests during Landrish will be settled by auction, not order of submission.  EAP is a chance to acquire desirable domains for a lower price than in Landrush, but higher than in GA.

The last time that .ss was in the news, several outlets called attention to the fact that .ss was a problematic domain name extension, as SS refers to the Nazi military organization.  That concern appears to have been resolved by not allowing registration at the second level.  The extensions available will be:

  • UNRESTRICTED: .com.ss / .net.ss / .biz.ss / .me.ss
  • RESTRICTED: .org.ss  /  .edu.ss  /  .gov.ss

Even after this week’s announcement, there are several unanswered questions.  The registry indicates that registration will be through accredited registrars, but doesn’t list any such registrars.  For the time being, accreditation is restricted to local entities, although the registry website makes a note that they will post criteria for accreditation by international registrars when (not if) they begin receving applications from abroad.

After some Google searching to try and locate a registrar, we came up empty.  In fact, we find only one company in the domain/hosting business that listed a South Sudan address on their website: Al Afdal Web Solutions

We also failed to find any information on the backend software to be used by this registry.  DNS support is being provided by Gransy s.r.o. of the Czech Republic, which offers a registry solution based on the FRED backend.  Additional DNS support is provided by Tanzania’s TZNIC, which uses FRED.  This would suggest that South Sudan’s registry personnel has been exposed to the FRED and Gransy software, but we have no evidence that they will use it.

Our aim is to offer .com.ss domain name registration starting with GA on September 1, as well as providing assistance with Sunrise/Landrush/GA on case-by-case basis.  This is still dependent on finding a supplier, so expect this post to be updated once we can confirm that this extension will be offered and for what price.

 

.cq / Eligible for Delegation

Sark wants its own TLD and has just cleared a major hurdle on the path to obtaining one.

A recent article in The Register alerted us to the decades-long effort of the tiny Channel Island to obtain an ISO alpha code, which in turn would make the territory eligible to ask IANA to delegate a new ccTLD.

IANA policy is clear on what makes a territory eligible for a ccTLD:

The IANA is not in the business of deciding what is and what is not a country. The selection of the ISO-3166-1 list as a basis for country code top-level domain names was made with the knowledge that ISO has a procedure for determining which entities should be and should not be on that list.

In other words, IANA defers to the judgement of ISO, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).  For a time ISO also had a straighforward criteria for eligibility for inclusion onto its ISO-3166-1 list.  Inclusion was automatic if the geographic division was recognized by the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD) as a separate territory.

This policy of automatic inclusion changed in the early 2010s and ISO now evaluates petitions on a case by case basis.  The Register article indicates that this change was made at least in part to make things more difficult for Sark.  After being rejected once for an ISO code, the person behind Sark’s petition made an appeal based on the fact that this territory is recognized by the UNSD.

After being rejected twice more, Sark make a new petition in 2019, this time with the backing of the powerful British Standards Institute.  In late February of this year, ISO decided to support this petition.

There’s still a long way to go before Sark’s desired .cq domain name is delegated.  First, ISO will assign a specific code.  Sark has requested CQ, but this is entirely up to ISO.  Next, Sark needs to apply to IANA for the creation of the ccTLD.

The last case of this nature was South Sudan, which was assigned its ISO code in 2011.  .ss wasn’t delegated until January 2019, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we should expect an eight-year wait for the delegation of .cq.  It wasn’t until August 2018 that South Sudan filed its application was filed to IANA, so the time between application and delegation was less than one year.

Sark is keen to get its ccTLD and it appears to already be determined which organization would have oversight over the domain.  If Sark enters into the appropriate partnerships to meet IANA’s technical criteria for delgation, things could theoretically move quickly.

.tr / Changes on the Horizon

Today’s post was originally intended to be a follow-up on a story from May about the .tr registry transition.  So as to not bury the lede, we first wanted to make known a few interesting nuggets uncovered during the research for this post.

The registry has published a FAQ about the transition, which refers not only to the process of migration, but also presents some information on rule changes to occur after the conclusion of this process.  Among these changes are a couple that should prove relevant to Toweb customers:

— Second-level registration (ex. mydomain.tr) will be possible one year after the activation of the new registration system.  The date of activation is TBD, so it’s not yet possible to speculate on when exactly this launch will begin

— Documents will no longer be required to register under .com.tr / .net.tr / .org.tr.  Under the current system, applicants for these domains must submit proof of a legitimate connection to Tukey

— It will be possible to sell domains three years after the new system is activated.  We presume that this means that owner update without deleting and re-registering the domain will become possible.

Once the new system is activated, we’ll update this post to indicate when customers can freely register under .com.tr and when the second-level .tr launch will take place.  Now onto the original purpose of this post, to provide an update on where we currently stand:

For the past few months, the registry website has given March 23 as the date on which they’d stop providing registration services directly.  They have followed through on this announcement and it is not currently possible to register new, .com.tr domains on the NIC.tr website.

As mentioned above, there is an as-yet-undetermined date on which a new registration system will be activated.  Until that activation occurs, it is possible for users to initiate the transfer of their domains to an accredited registrar via the NIC.tr website, by following this link.

After the activation occurs, the NIC.tr website will be shut down and domains will automatically migrate to the new system.  Presumably, there will be some way for registrants that haven’t yet migrated to a registrar to do so via the new system, but no information on such procedures is yet available.

As of this moment, we can’t provide any actionable information and are publishing the above so that domain investors and other interested parties can prepare and keep an eye on news regarding .tr.

We understand that some parties may wish to register third-level names in the hopes of acquiring priority rights to the corresponding second-level domains.  The publication of launch rules is probably a year away at the least, but we’d of course be willing to assist clients that wish to adopt this strategy on a speculative basis.

Supporting Customers During COVID-19

To our valued Toweb customers, partners, and friends:

We hope you and your loved ones are together, safe and healthy amid these unusual and uncertain times.

As you take steps to adapt your own businesses to the challenges ahead, we would like to assure you that we remain committed to providing you world class services and products.

We are set to maintain our regular operations in the event of further unforeseen circumstances that impact our customers. Our globally distributed infrastructure, managed from multiple independent locations around the world, enables us to continue providing regular services to our customers. This structure also allows us to put our colleagues’ well-being at the forefront of our priorities while maintaining our business integrity.

Several details on our planning:

  • We have an experienced Business Continuity team at CentralNic, who are monitoring and managing the situation of our business lines worldwide.
  • We have been following the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) guidelines, and as of several weeks ago began limiting team member work travel.
  • Any team member who has travelled internationally is now in 14 day self-quarantined conditions.
  • As of March 16th, we are moving to fully remote work for all Toweb employees.
  • We are working closely with our operations teams in order to ensure we follow procedures with respect and care in accordance with the WHO recommendations and appropriate National Health Authority guidelines for each of our regions.
  • Our priority remains the safety of our colleagues, customers and partners.

We will provide further updates as needed and rest assured we will continue delivering the Toweb services you already know and trust. If you have any questions or concerns please reach out to your sales representative or contact us at info@towebbrasil.com

Wishing you and your loved ones good health.

In solidarity,

Your Toweb Team.

.ve / New Interface

It was been a year of irregular service for Venezuela’s .ve, owing to factors  both within and ouside of the registry’s control.  Yesterday marked an important milestone on the path back to normalcy, as a more robust web interface went live.

There platform is still buggy and we don’t want to get our hopes up, but after spending an hour or so poking around, an outline of a functional domain management system begins to emerge.  Specifically, it appears that the three main “problem areas” have been addressed:

Contacts: 

The pre-2019 .ve Whois listed the usual four contacts:  registrant, Admin, Tech and Billing.  Each contact corresponded to a registry account, so it was possible to logon as any of these roles.  Registrant and Billing were the important ones, as only registrant had full authority to modify the domain and only Billing could pay for registrations and renewals.

The Whois that debuted in 2019 created an inconsistency between the Whois display and the domain registration form. When ordering a new domain, the user still needed to input four contacts. However, the Whois showed only registrant and Admin. Furthermore, NIC VE began rejecting payments made through the account of the Billing Contact, leading to doubts as to what privileges still existed for that role.

The new platform clears this up: The only contacts that survive are Registrant and Admin, both of which have full control over the domain. The difference is that the registrant can request a change of Admin Contact, whereas the Admin Contact cannot relinquish this role in favor of another party.

NOTE:  In the new interface, Contacts still must correspond to an existing registry account and it remains impossible to use the same e-mail address for different accounts.

Payments:

The last time NIC VE introduced a new interface was in 2017.  This update brought with it two significant changes to payment policy:  It was no longer possible to pay for multiple years and the option to pay with credit card was removed.

The latest incarnation restores the option to pay with credit card.  Given the volatility of Venezuela’s currency, this may be especially relevant to Toweb customers.  When credit card payment was possible prior to the 2017 update, we were occasionally able to register domains for less than 1 USD.  If this situation repeats itself, we’d be keen to offer attractive promotions for this TLD.

While not announced, it didn’t take long after the 2017 overhaul for Toweb to discover that the registry wasn’t allowing multi-year registrations.  The first such payment we attempted was rejected with a comment from NIC VE about only being able to pay for “one year at a time.”  Still, a slight confusion remained, as it was not clear if it would be possible to renew domains that weren’t approaching expiry.

NIC VE has removed this doubt as well, as their interface automatically separates domains that are eligible for payment.

Registrar Transfers:

The emergence of the Admin Contact as a powerful role changes the procedure for transfers between registrars.  When it was understood that the registrant was the only contact with full administrative capabilities, registrars needed to use owner contacts that contained the registant’s data, except with a unique e-mail address controlled by the registrar.  For example:

Registrant Organization: Client Company, Inc.
Registrant Email: clientcompany@losingregistar.com

…so to switch to a new administrator, one had to change the registrant to:

New Registrant Organization: Client Company, Inc.
New Registrant Email: clientcompany@gainingregistrar.com

It was an awkward system that led to registrars creating tens or hundreds of accounts for each unique registrant.  Now that it is known that the Admin Contact has complete authority, the registrant can stay inchanged during a registrar transfer.  To move a domain, the registrant will simply set the new registrar as Admin via the web interface.

We appreciate the patience our clients have shown during this tumultous year for .ve and hope to reward your understanding with lower prices and shorter processing times in the years to come.

.ie / End of Direct Service

All .ie domains managed directly by Ireland’s registry (IEDR) will be automatically moved to a registrar on March 31.  The identity of the registrar that will receive this transfers should be made known in the coming days.

IEDR is not forcing registrants to choose a registrar, nor suggesting that they do so.  Transfers to the appointed registrar will occur at no charge to the end user, whereas explicit transfers include a renewal and are billed at the normal, annual rate.

The registry cites a figure of 2.000 domains currently managed directly, within a total zone size of 280.000.  Low usage of their direct management system, together with the availability of 130 qualified registrars, mark the reasons IEDR decided to make this change.

The agreement between IEDR and the registrar appointed to receive these 2.000 domains will apparently not include any guarantees with regards to price.  Users unsatisifed with the price cited by the appointed registrar are advised simply to shop around for a better price.

In 2018, IEDR removed a restriction mandating that the domain be a direct match for the name of the entity requesting it.  There was hope at the time that this was the first step towards liberalizing .ie and that the connection to Ireland restriction would soon be removed as well. Two years later, users are still obligated to submit documentation showing a bonafide connection to Ireland in order to secure their .ie domain.

With this announcement officially moving .ie to the registry-registrar model, hope is rekindled that more changes are on the horizon.  However, there’s been no comment on the document requirement, which still leads to longer registration times and curbs domainer interest.

Read the entire IEDR FAQ here.

.dk / Danish Ministry Sets New Terms

The Danish Business Affairs Ministry has published an addendum to the 2014 law governing that country’s ccTLD. A machine-translated version of the text can be found here.

The new terms are best classified as an update to those from 2014, as opposed to any radical shift in approach. For example, support for IDN and DNSSEC is to be mandatory under the new provisions. While less common in 2014, industry trends favor increased adoption of these features.

The Ministry specifies that the ccTLD manager must be a coalition that admits a diverse group of stakeholders as members. This describes the Danish Internet Forum perfectly, which is the organization that oversees current registry operator DK-Hostmaster. Everything indicates that DK-Hostmaster will continue in this role for the foreseeable future, a role it has occupied since 1999.

A large section of the addendum is dedicated to the responsabilities of the ccTLD manager and other guidelines not necessarily perceptible to the registrar or registant. Four elements that will impact this community are:

  • Pricing for .dk must remain comparable to other regional ccTLDs, specifically: .se / .no / .fi / .nl / .de / .uk
  • Annual surveys will be administered to registrars to gauge satisfaction with DK-Hostmaster, as well as to registrants to evaluate their satisfaction with .dk registrars
  • Registrars must support DNSSEC by January 1, 2021.
  • Support for the following IDN characters is mandatory begininning January 1, 2021: æ, ø, å, ü, ä, ö, é
  • Domains are subjected to deletion within 60 days of an unaddressed complaint about the accuracy of Whois data.

.dk is a curious case of a ccTLD with a registrar program and EPP, which at the same time mandates that several operations be executed by a human user through their web interface. These include:

  • Registering nameservers not previously used with a .dk domain and requesting that DK-Hostmaster approve them
  • Updating contacts
  • Paying for registrant updates

The rationale for not permitting that these operations be completed in realtime via EPP is unknown to Toweb, but it clearly isn’t due to a lack of technical capacity on the part of DK-Hostmaster.

As the new directives mandate sophisticated technical undertakings without addressing these obvious issues with the user experience, we are left to conclude that the organizational philosophy favors the registrant’s direct involvement in domain management.

 

.tl / Dream Team Assembled

During the ICANN meeting in Montréal in November, APTLD convened a meeting of three “mature” ccTLD operators:  auDA (Australia), PANDI (Indonesia) and DNS.PT (Portugual).  The topic of conversation was the promotion of .tl domains.

APTLD is acting as the bridge between these operators and the ccTLD manager for Timor Leste.  The Montréal meeting produced a general agreement on operating principles for a project described as “capacity building.”

The three operators each have a unique interest in the project:

— DNS.PT works to develop the Portuguese-language internet.  Timor Leste is a Portuguese-speaking nation.

— auDA supports Australia’s International Cyber Engagement Strategy.  Their participation aims to ensure that best practices are applied in terms of internet governance.

— The easternmost islands of Indonesia are a short distance from Timor Leste.  In addition to advising its neighbor, PANDI view this project as an opportunity to learn from auDA and DNS.PT.

Little information is available as to what this project will entail.  From the language used in the APTLD press release, it should be a mix of operational and marketing support.

.tl currently operates on CoCCA software and nic.tl resolves to CoCCA’s website.  Upon searching the website of the ccTLD manager, Timor Leste’s National Telecommunications Authority, Toweb was unable to find any section with information on policies for the .tl domain name.

DNS.PT and PANDI operate their own backends, whereas auDA uses Afilias.  It’s unclear whether this project will involve a migration away from CoCCA software.   .tl domains are widely-available internationally, but seldom receive any promotion.  The wholesale price of 40 AUD (approximately 28 USD) would need to come down a bit to drive registrations abroad.

If there are relevant developments for .tl that arise from this project, we will publish a new item to outline them.  For the moment, .tl services will continue as usual and this story is noteworthy primarily for the composition of the team that will be promoting this ccTLD.

.td / Modernization of Chad’s Registry

On December 17-18, the inagural Chad DNS Forum was held in the country´s capitol N’Djamena. A key point on the agenda was boosing domain registrations under .td, a zone with fewer than 500 active domains, but for which the government sees potential for growth.

In 2017, the Chadian telecommunications operator SOTEL turned the ccTLD over to a newly-created government agency called ADETIC. The current iteration of the registry was launched as a joint effort between these two entities and CoCCA, whose registry software is already in use by 54 other ccTLDs.

.td domain registration is done through registrars, of which there are currently just four. ADETIC aims to increase this number both by holding workshops for prospective registrars and by offering a more efficient software through CoCCA.

The current group of registrars is made up of three local entities and Afriregister, a registrar operating in several countries in the region and which manages ccTLD portfolios for other registrars abroad.

Afriregister has a landing page on a .td domain and a support phone number with the local +235 prefix. It is not clear if they have a bonafide presence in Chad, or if this is even a requirement for accreditation. The registry website doesn’t list any specific criteria, asking simply that prospective registrars send their information by e-mail or post.

The fee for registrars is not known. Afriregister’s published price is 30.000 XFA on the Chadian website, or around 50 USD. However, an error appears when attempting checkout, indicating that the user has accessed from a foreign IP and that the page is only for local use. The price to register under .td from Afriregister’s international website is 175 EUR.

Regardless of whether the price is 50 USD or 175 EUR, current rates are too high to garner investor interest, so .td will likely remain in the realm of brand protection for the immediate future. Toweb has begun offering .td on a limited basis, so please reach out to your Account Manager if you wish to explore a registration. The TLD is unrestricted and as you might image with a zone size under 500, most generic terms are still available.

At this time Toweb has no specific plans to gain an accreditation with the .td registry, but we will be monitoring the registry website to see if any international actors beyond Afriregister decide to complete this process. The hope is that with more competition and a functional backend, we could see prices come down in the not-too-distant future.

.co / Neustar Claims Tender is Illegal

It’s starting to seem more probable that a new registry operator will be selected for .co before the current license expires in February.

In June, we blogged about a bidding process that the Colombian government had undertaken to select a new registry operator for Colombia’s ccTLD (link). At the time we thought the process might be biased in favor of an extension being granted to Neustar-owned operator CO Internet.  However, that appears not to be the case, as Neustar is heading to court to challenge the legality of the tender process.

Prior to filing suit in Colombia, Neustar notified the IT Ministry of its intent to bring the matter to an international arbitration forum, the dispute-resolution procedure stipulated by the free-trade agreement between Colombia and the United States.

Next, Neustar went to the Colombian Council of State, a body analogous to a Supreme Court.  Here the company requested injunctive relief, asking that any bidding process be suspended while the matter was in arbitration.  The presiding judge rejected the request on October 30, citing among other things that a company cannot simply declare itself to be in arbitration and that both parties in the dispute must agree to submit to this process.

The judge’s decision on the injuction was published in its entirety (Word download) and gives us the best glimpse into Neustar’s arguments.  These include:

— The 2009 contract includes a clause providing for negotiations to extend the licensing agreement for another ten years, from 2020-2030.  The Colombian IT Ministry is in breach of this clause, as they refused Neustar’s requests to meet and discuss such an extension.

— By publicly announcing an open tender process, the IT ministry has harmed Neustar’s shareholders by creating the sense that the company’s license to operate .co may not continue.  These actions are in breach of the free-trade agreement between the United States and Colombia.

After the Colombian court refused to grant the injunction, Neustar’s lawyer filed an interlocutory appeal, a measure meant to nullify or amend the previous ruling.  This appeal has not yet been resolved.

Interestingly, in the intermediary period, Colombian registrar Mi.com.co filed a motion to be included in the proceedings.  All we know about this so far is that Neustar requested on December 2 that this motion be denied.

With a contract of this magnitude, this author assumed that all the momentum lead towards renewal.  While the legal actions described in this post are still ongoing, at very least it seems that Neustar doesn’t like the way things are heading.

More on this story as it develops…