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Five more new gTLDs, one in English, get the nod from China

Kevin Murphy, February 14, 2017, Domain Registries

Top Level Design’s .ink has become the sixth new gTLD in the Latin alphabet to be approved for sale in China.

It was one of four new gTLDs given regulatory approval to begin operating properly in the country late last week. The others were all in Chinese script.

From Finnish-founded TLD Registry, .中文网 (“Chinese web site”) and .在线 (“Chinese online”) gained approval.

From local outfit Guangzhou Yuwei Information Technology Co, .集团 (“group”) and .我爱你 (“I love you”) were given the nod.

It’s the third batch of new gTLDs to get Chinese government approval since .vip, .club and .xyz in December. In January, .site and .shop joined their ranks.

Under China’s Draconian domain name regulations, only domains registered via local registries and registrars may be used.

Registries from outside the country have had to set up a local corporate presence and agree to China’s censorship policies in order to be compliant.

Contract breach cited as TLD Registry switches from Afilias to Chinese government back-end

The break between TLD Registry and former back-end provider Afilias may be even less amicable than first thought.

I’m hearing that TLDR served Afilias with a “Notice of Material Breach” of contract earlier this year, threatening to move its two gTLDs to a rival owned by the Chinese government.

There may even be pending litigation.

Today TLDR confirmed in a statement that it’s switching the roughly 30,000 names in .在线 (.xn--3ds443g, “Chinese online”) and .中文网 (.xn--fiq228c5hs, “Chinese website”) from Afilias to Beijing Teleinfo Network Technology Co.

Tele-info is a little-known back-end provider currently servicing four pre-launch Latin-script Chinese gTLDs.

According to TLDR, the company is owned by the Chinese Academy of Telecommunication Research, which appears to be part of the Chinese government’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

According to a source, back in February TLDR told Afilias that it would switch to Tele-info if Afilias was “unable or unwilling to remedy” unspecified contractual breaches by mid-May.

I don’t know what the alleged breaches were and neither company wants to talk about it.

“Afilias does not comment on pending litigation,” a spokesperson said.

“We are not commenting on contractual or litigation matters,” a TLDR spokesperson said.

TLDR said in a statement that the switch to Tele-info will help it get a Chinese government license, so Chinese registrants will be able to start using their domains. CEO Arto Isokoski said:

The completion of this milestone will hopefully pave the way for our accreditation with Chinese regulators, which ultimately allows our China-based customer’s names to resolve legally to a website hosted from within China.

It’s hard to argue with that logic — if it’s using a government back-end for its SRS, one can see how that would oil the gears of bureaucracy.

UPDATE 1753 UTC: Afilias has just provided DI with the following statement:

With respect to TLD Registry’s charges of breach of contract, Afilias categorically denies any breach of any kind whatsoever. Afilias has complied completely with our contractual obligations and responded to all requests for assistance with their various business priorities. Since we began supporting these 2 TLDs, Afilias has met every SLA and enabled the 2 TLDS to be 100% compliant with their technical and contractual obligations to ICANN. Afilias has provided 100% compliance on every SRS requirement, and maintained their DNS with 100% availability throughout the entire period of our stewardship. TLD Registry’s charges are completely without merit.

Afilias loses back-end deals on two Chinese gTLDs

TLD Registry, the Finnish/Irish registry that runs two Chinese-script gTLDs, has ditched Afilias in favor of a Chinese back-end provider.

Afilias said tonight that as of Friday it will no longer be the back-end for .在线 (.xn--3ds443g, “Chinese online”) and .中文网 (.xn--fiq228c5hs, “Chinese website”).

The company said:

Afilias has been directed by TLD Registry to shut down the Afilias operated SRS’s for .xn—3ds443g and .xn—fiq228c5hs on June 17, 2016 at 00:00:00 UTC and transfer the registry files to TLD Registry and its new provider. In accordance with this directive from our client, the SRS will be shut down and the files will be transferred, and Afilias will no longer operate the SRS for these two strings.

TLD Registry VP Pinky Brand declined to name the registry’s new back-end provider, beyond that the winning provider is Chinese.

The new back-end will be named in the next day or so, he said.

Registrars have been informed about the switch, Afilias said.

It’s not yet clear whether TLD Registry has decided to switch providers for cost reasons or in order to more deeply embed itself in China.

The company was founded by and is managed by Finns and is legally based in Ireland, but it only runs Chinese-script gTLDs.

The Chinese government has regulations, and is proposing more, preventing Chinese citizens using domains that do not meet certain guidelines, which include a corporate presence in China.

Several registries are opening up offices in China in order to abide by these rules, but I’m not aware of any that have switched back-ends for that reason.

The two gTLDs have fewer than 30,000 domains in their zone files between them.

Oops! TLD Registry over-reports first-day figures

Kevin Murphy, April 28, 2014, Domain Registries

TLD Registry’s first hours of Chinese IDN gTLD registrations were not as big as previously reported.

We reported earlier today that .在线 (“.online”) and .中文网 (“.chinesewebsite”) had made it to 54,011 names and 38,838 names respectively, just one hour after the 1300 UTC general availability.

However, a few hours later the company told us it had accidentally included thousands of registry-reserved names in those totals.

The actual numbers are 33,012 for .在线 and 17,537 for .中文网, as of 1900 UTC.

These are still extremely impressive numbers, and .在线 is still the biggest launch to date, surpassing the 31,645 with which .berlin ended its first day of GA a month ago.

That gTLD is likely to end the day in third or fourth place in the new gTLD league table, depending on how .photography (with 33,489 names this morning) performed today.

.guru’s crown remains.

Both sets of new numbers include sunrise, landrush and up to 10,000 names registered to the Chinese government under a special pre-release deal the registry negotiated, but they do not include reserved names.

Chinese “.online” beats .guru in one hour

Kevin Murphy, April 28, 2014, Domain Registries

The Chinese new gTLD .在线, which means “.online” has become the biggest new gTLD launch to date, taking tens of thousands of registrations in its first hour of general availability.

According to TLD Registry, which took .在线 and .中文网 (“.chinesewebsite”) to GA at 1300 UTC today, .在线 had 54,011 names and .中文网 had 38,838 names just one hour later.

UPDATE: These numbers were wrong.

That immediately puts .在线 at the top of the new gTLD leaderboard, a clear 1,500 names ahead of Donuts’ .guru (52,428 as of 0100 UTC), which has topped the chart for the last few months.

It took .guru, which launched January 29, 78 days to hit 50,000 names.

With its 38,838 names, .中文网 takes the number four position behind .guru and .berlin.

“As of the last minute before GA, the total number of domains in Dot Chinese Online (.在线) totalled 9,803, and the total number of domains in Dot Chinese Website (.中文网) totalled 8,623,” TLD Registry marketing director Simon Cousins told DI, citing numbers provided by back-end provider Afilias.

The company had allocated 20,452 names, split evenly between the two TLDs, to the Chinese government.

It also auctioned off several dozen names with Sedo at an event in Macau last month.

One of these, a real estate site at 房地产.在线, which means “realestate.online” has already gone live.

TLD Registry sells $584k of new gTLD domains, expects million-dollar sale next month

Kevin Murphy, April 24, 2014, Domain Registries

TLD Registry, the company behind two Chinese new gTLDs, says it has sold over $584,000 of premium domain names already and expects to make a seven-figure sale next month.

The Finnish-founded company is launching .中文网 and .在线, which mean “Chinese web site” and “online” respectively.

Marketing director Simon Cousins told DI this week that the company has sold $584,000 of domains so far and was “confident” of making a seven-figure sale — sounds like a multiple-domain batch — next month

The $584,000 figure includes the $182,000 worth of domains sold at a live/hybrid auction in Macau last month and 101 other domains sold privately for $402,000, Cousins claimed.

“We’re working on some blockbuster tranches right now, and are confident we’ll have a 7-fig sale to report in May,” he said in an email.

The company has been working with Sedo on premium auctions.

The landrush period ended yesterday. The gTLDs are due to go to general availability April 28.

TLD Registry sells 20k+ IDN gTLD names to Chinese gov

Kevin Murphy, March 19, 2014, Domain Registries

TLD Registry has sold 20,452 new gTLD domain names to the Chinese government as it prepares to launch .中文网 (“.chinesewebsite”) and .在线 (“.online”) tomorrow.

The deal, signed this week with the Service Development Center of the State Council Office for Public Sector Reform (SCOPSR) is for 10,226 names in each gTLD.

The domains include the Chinese-script names of every city in China with a population of over 200,000, as well as counties, municipalities and other regional names.

Strings that translate to things like “invest in [place name]” and “tourism [place name]” have also been registered to the government in both TLDs, according to the company.

It looks like this is the first significant anchor tenant deal we’ve seen in the new gTLD program.

Assuming China actually uses these names, it could be great publicity for the new registry’s gTLDs. The government has a policy of transitioning all of its services to fully IDN.IDN domains.

If not, it still means that both gTLDs stand to launch with over 10,000 names in each zone file on day one, even before regular registrants have had a chance to buy them.

The company is also set to auction a bunch of premium names in both namespaces on Friday simultaneously via Sedo and a live event at a private members’ club in Macau.

I’m posting this from Hong Kong airport, en route to the Macau event. As a matter of disclosure: TLD Registry is paying for my flights and accommodation.

Superstitious launch planned for Chinese gTLDs

Kevin Murphy, December 4, 2013, Domain Registries

TLD Registry plans to time its Chinese new gTLD launch dates to coincide with days considered lucky in Chinese astrology.

The Sunrise period for .在线 (“.online”) and .中文网 (“.chinesewebsite”) will start January 17 and end March 17.

According to the registry:

Both the start and end days of Sunrise fall on highly auspicious days for “starting new businesses” in the ancient Chinese almanac. The Chinese almanac was created during the Han Dynasty around 200BC, and continues to be an important guide to the lives and businesses of more than a billion Chinese people.

A landrush period will follow starting March 20, “an auspicious day for ‘breaking ground'”, and ending April 24.

TLD Registry will also run a live/online auction for “the most valuable and sought-after” names in Macau on March 21.

General availability is slated for April 28, “a highly auspicious date for ‘starting new businesses’ and ‘grand openings'”

It’s cute marketing, and no mistake.

The Chinese almanac, like all astrology, is of course utter nonsense.

Let’s Learn IDNs — .中文网 (Chinese Website)

Kevin Murphy, December 2, 2013, Domain Registries

Today, the belated first in an irregular series of articles devoted to making new IDN gTLDs more recognizable to the majority of DI readers who use the Latin alphabet in their native tongue.

Let’s Learn IDNs, as I said in my introduction to the series, won’t teach you Greek, but it will hopefully make it easier to instinctively know what a Greek IDN means when you see it.

I’m hoping this will prove very useful for everyone with an interest in the new gTLD program, bringing meaning to what otherwise would be an incomprehensible string of gibberish.

For the first lesson, we’re looking at TLD Registry‘s .中文网, which I guarantee after today you’ll never forget.

U-Label
.中文网

A-Label
.xn--fiq228c5hs

Translation
“.chinesewebsite”

Script
Chinese (Simplified)

Language(s)
Chinese. According to the registry, this includes “Mandarin, Cantonese, Hakka and over 250 other Chinese dialects.”

Transliteration
Zhōng Wén Wǎng

Pronunciation
Jong (rhymes with long)
When (as in “when are you arriving”)
Wong (rhymes with long)

How to Learn this IDN

In Chinese, each character generally represents a syllable and will often also have meaning as a word in its own right, which is the case with the three characters of .中文网.

Helpfully, these characters are also pictograms that pretty much explain themselves.

(Zhōng) is a line going through the middle of a box. It means “middle”. It’s also the first character of the Chinese word for “China” — 中国, which literally means “Middle Kingdom”.

(Wén) looks like a little writing desk with a quill on top. It means “language”. Combine it with 中 to get 中文, which means “Chinese Language”.

(Wǎng) looks like a net (or maybe a cobweb). It’s the Simplified Chinese word for “net”, which the Chinese also use to refer to the internet or web.

“Altogether, 中文网 as a gTLD string, is two words that make one common Chinese language expression: Chinese-language (中文) website (网),” said TLD Registry’s head of comms Simon Cousins.

Dead easy, right?

Certainly, since Cousins first explained this to me a few months ago, I’ve never failed to recognize .中文网 whenever I’ve seen it.

Angry Birds backing two Chinese-language gTLDs

Kevin Murphy, September 9, 2013, Domain Registries

The Finnish/Irish new gTLD applicant TLD Registry Ltd has signed two ICANN Registry Agreements, covering the Chinese strings .在线 (.online) and .中文网 (a phrase meaning “Chinese language website”).

The deals were signed yesterday, but the news is set to be formally announced in Beijing on Tuesday by the Finnish prime minister, Jyrki Katainen, who’s on a state visit to the country.

He’ll be joined by Peter Vesterbacka, chief marketing officer of Angry Birds maker Rovio Entertainment, which is supporting TLD Registry as the first announced member of its “founders program”.

The two new agreements mean ICANN has now contractual powers over more new gTLDs (19) than legacy ones (18).

TLD Registry CEO Arto Isokoski told DI this morning that 在线 and 中文网 are already extremely well-known and widely-used phrases on the Chinese internet.

“在线” is the direct translation of “online” and “中文网” is what Chinese web users instinctively type when they’re searching for the Chinese-language version of a foreign brand’s web site, he said.

“It surprises me as well that these were not contested,” Isokoski said. “These are the strings that Chinese users type in when they’re looking for web sites online.”

Both TLDs will be open to registrants anywhere in the world, though .中文网 seems to be particularly suited for brands from the ASCII parts of the world, looking to improve SEO in the country.

Isokoski said that the company hopes to take .在线 and .中文网 to market early next year. If the strings are delegated in early November, then general availability could start in mid-January, he said.

Depending on ICANN delays, the launch schedule may have to be moved back to February or March in order to avoid the “dead period” around Chinese New Year, which starts in late January, he said.

The most directly competitive gTLD would be .网址, an arguably superior string meaning roughly “website”, which is now out of contention and likely to sign its own contract soon.

Two other Chinese gTLDs, both owned by Donuts, have ICANN contracts already — .游戏 (games) and .企业 (business).

Isokoski said that TLD Registry hopes to have about 20 members of its founders program (included Rovio, which is Finnish but makes games wildly popular in China) and about 20 launch registrars.

Like other IDN gTLD registries, the company is hoping that its first-to-market advantage will give its marketing a lift due to the extra media interest.

TLD Registry is based in Ireland, near its back-end provider Afilias, but was founded by Finns. Afilias alum Pinky Brand is managing registrar relationships for the company.