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CoCCA withdraws from APTLD over support for AusRegistry “monopoly”

Kevin Murphy, October 24, 2012, 11:05:28 (UTC), Domain Registries

Registry services provider CoCCA has pulled out of the Asia Pacific Top Level Domain Association after APTLD gave support to AusRegistry in its campaign to continue to run .au.

The company claims that APTLD — the Hong Kong-based association of ccTLD operators from the region — backed AusRegistry because AusRegistry is one of its largest donors.

The allegations center on a consultation run by AuDA, the policy overseer for Australia’s .au domain.

AuDA is currently deciding whether to renegotiate AusRegistry’s longstanding registry back-end contract — which is its preferred option — or open it up to public tender.

Draft recommendations published for comment last month suggest that the contract should remain with AusRegistry when it expires in 2014, albeit with renegotiated terms.

CoCCA is mad with APTLD for submitting a comment in support of these recommendations without first consulting its membership, suspecting AusRegistry’s sponsorship of APTLD might have something to do with it.

(October 24 Update: APTLD has submitted a revised comment here. The original submission can be found here.)

In an email to APTLD last week, CoCCA director Garth Miller said:

That AusRegistry, a large for-profit company that is an associate member of APTLD can simply make a phone call to a board member and get the board to make a public submission on behalf of all members that a scheduled public tender be cancelled and AusRegistry be awarded the contract – worth as much as several hundred million dollars, because they have made substantial contributions to the APLTD in the past and are likely to do so in the future if awarded the contract is, in my view, disturbing.

CoCCA, which already provides registry services for a few ccTLDs in the region and runs the .cx (Christmas Island) ccTLD, reckons the .au back-end contract should be opened to competitive bidding.

Judging by the other submissions to AuDA’s consultation, which are published here, it’s a minority view.

Every other comment — most of which were sent by .au registrars, even newcomers such as Go Daddy — supports the recommendation that AusRegistry should keep the deal.

And AusRegistry says that everything is above board. CEO Adrian Kinderis said in a statement sent to DI:

AusRegistry has been actively seeking acknowledgments and recommendations from valued partners and industry leaders over the past month. This included an approach to APTLD to seek a reference from them to acknowledge the positive industry engagement and continued support and participation of AusRegistry in the Asia Pacific domain name industry. APTLD responded positively to our request. AusRegistry has made no secret of such, and to suggest that clandestine calls have taken place is simply not true.

APTLD also denied that it has done anything wrong, though it does not appear to be denying that AusRegistry contributions may have played a part in its decision.

In a statement, APTLD told DI:

The allegation on APTLD must be a misunderstanding and is untrue. APTLD has no comments to make on the tendering process and whether a public tender should be conducted. APTLD does not have sufficient local knowledge to provide any constructive comments. All APTLD can provide is a reference for AusRegistry as an active and positive player in the domain name industry in the Asia Pacific region. Past contributions to APTLD is just one of the many factors when the Board considers whether to provide a reference to a particular member.

AusRegistry has been running the .au registry under contract with AuDA since 2001. It’s used its experience to launch ARI Registry Services, a pretty big player in the new gTLD back-end market.

Last time its .au deal was renegotiated, prices came down.

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Comments (3)

  1. Garth Miller says:

    AusRegistry operates the .au ccTLD because auDA, a not-for-profit company petitioned the Commonwealth of Australia and the IANA for the right to run it.

    The Commonwealth supported auDA’s petition to the IANA because auDA committed in writing to introduce competition and run .au “in the public or common interest”.

    The question is not whether Ausregistry does a competent job, there is no denying they do, but whether outsourcing without tender is consistent with the terms of auDA’s endorsement and representations. My view is that competition is should actually involve competition, and that management of .au in the “public or common interest” should involve public tenders.

  2. I don’t own an .au domains, but I definitely agree with both Garth and Phillip.

    I’ve advocated public tenders for all gTLDs (especially .com, but also .net, .org, .biz, .info, etc.) for many years, to ensure that net benefits to consumers are maximized. It’s a no-brainer, except in the eyes of coddled bureaucrats (*cough* ICANN *cough*) who rely upon a cozy relationship with monopolist providers for their exorbitant salaries.

  3. Adrian Kinderis says:

    Quick question; when was the last time .cx was put out for public tender?

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