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Did Kazakhstan just screw up somebody’s new gTLD plans?

Kevin Murphy, February 10, 2012, Domain Registries

ICANN has approved a new country-code top-level domain for the nation of Kazakhstan.

The new .қаз, which is “kaz” is Cyrillic, will be delegated to the “Association of IT companies of Kazakhstan”, according to a resolution passed by ICANN’s board of directors this week.

But did this move just cause problems for a new gTLD applicant?

One cultural/geographic gTLD that was proposed back in 2009 is .kab, for the Kabylia region of Algeria and the Kabyle language and people.

It’s easy to see how kab/KAB and .қаз could be considered confusing during a string similarity review, though ICANN’s laughable Sword tool only gives them a visual similarity score of 49%.

The .kab application currently has a dead web site, so it’s quite possibly one of the many new gTLD projects that fizzled out during ICANN’s repeated delays launching the program.

Key-Systems wins .dm registry deal, 20 others

Kevin Murphy, December 19, 2011, Domain Registries

The German domain name registrar Key-Systems will provide the registry platform for Dominica’s soon-to-relaunch .dm country-code domain, the company has announced.

The company will provide local registry manager DotDM Corp with “tools to facilitate .dm registrations at the registry, registrar and reseller levels”, according to a press release.

It’s the first TLD deal Key-Systems, under its KSregistry registry services brand, has announced since it stopped providing back-end services for .cd back in 2005.

But KSregistry will also be involved in “more than 20” new ICANN gTLD applications next year, including brand, geographic and generic strings, according to a spokesperson.

DotDM has been the de facto manager of the .dm zone since 2001, but did not receive its official IANA redelegation until 2007. It plans to “market the .dm suffix worldwide” according to its web site.

It plans to launch the new system in the first quarter next year and is currently looking for registrars interested in accreditation.

Dominica is a small Caribbean island with a population of around 72,000, best known for its bananas.

The world’s newest TLD – ICANN approves .sx

Kevin Murphy, December 2, 2011, Domain Registries

ICANN’s board of directors has finally approved .sx, the new country-code top-level domain for newly autonomous Dutch territory Sint Maarten.

In an unexpected non-meeting earlier this week, the board voted to delegate .sx to SX Registry, a joint venture of Luxembourg registry startup OpenRegistry and Canadian registrar MediaFusion.

The vote had been delayed from the board’s meeting in October as SX Registry went through the required pre-delegation motions with ICANN’s IANA department.

Sint Maarten was created in October 2010 when the Netherlands Antilles (.an) split into three separate territories.

The ccTLD .cw for Curacao was assigned to the University of the Netherlands Antilles in October this year, but .bq for Bonaire, Saint Eustatius and Saba, has yet to be delegated.

The legacy .an domain is scheduled to be decommissioned before October 2014.

European ccTLDs liberalize policies

Kevin Murphy, November 30, 2011, Domain Registries

Afnic, the .fr registry, will adopt new policies next week enabling organizations from outside of France to register domain names for the first time.

Under the rule change, entities in European Union countries, as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, will qualify for .fr names.

The new policy (pdf), which comes into effect December 6, also applies to .re, the ccTLD for the French terrirtory Réunion, which Afnic also manages.

The registry is also discontinuing a handful of second-level domains which were previously available for third-level registration by the public.

Existing domains in .com.fr, ..tm.fr, .asso.fr, .asso.re, and .com.re will continue to function, but Afnic will no longer accept new registrations in these extensions.

Elsewhere in Europe, the Norwegian registry Norid liberalized its registration policies this morning, raising its ownership cap from 20 to 100 domain names per registrant.

Evidently anticipating a possible increase in cybersquatting disputes as a result, Norid has said it has also instituted a loser pays model for its dispute resolution process.

Gaddafi ousted from Libya’s Whois

Kevin Murphy, November 16, 2011, Domain Registries

Libya has changed the Whois records for the .ly top-level domain to remove references to the usurped Gaddafi regime.

While ownership of .ly has not changed in the IANA records — it’s still delegated to the national General Post and Telecommunication Company — the name of the country has.

Until late last month, it was “Libyan Arab Jamahiriya”, a reference to the unique political philosophy of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, who took over the country in 1977.

It’s now just “Libya”.

The change was made October 27, just seven days after Gaddafi was captured and killed by rebels in Sirte.

(Hat tip: @ianawhois)

Two new TLDs to be approved next week

Kevin Murphy, October 6, 2011, Domain Registries

ICANN is set to approve two new country-code top-level domains next week – .cw and .sx – for the year-old nations of Curacao and Sint Maarten.

The two countries were created when the Netherlands Antilles split last October.

The ICANN board of directors plans to rubber-stamp the delegations of both ccTLDs next Tuesday, according to the consent agenda for its meeting.

It also plans to vote on the “transition” arrangements for the Netherlands Antilles’ .an, which is now a ccTLD without a country.

The .an space won’t be the first TLD to be deprecated. Yugoslavia’s .yu disappeared in March last year, for example, a few years after Serbia and Montenegro acquired their own ccTLDs.

The recipient of .sx is expected to be SX Registry, a joint venture of Luxembourg registry startup OpenRegistry and Canadian registrar MediaFusion.

OpenRegistry CEO Jean-Christophe Vignes said that if ICANN votes for the delegation the company will start talks with potential registrar partners at the ICANN Dakar meeting later this month.

MediaFusion and Vignes’ alma mater EuroDNS have already been approved to act as .sx registrars.

The company plans to use CHIP, the ClearingHouse for Intellectual Property, for its sunrise period.

Anyone with a .an registration predating December 2010 will be able to request the equivalent .sx name under a grandfathering program the company plans to launch.

It will be the first TLD that OpenRegistry has provided the back-end infrastructure for.

Some IDNs fly, while some fail

Kevin Murphy, August 14, 2011, Domain Registries

Russia may have witnessed a domain name boom this year with the launch of .РФ last November, but other internationalized domain names are proving far from popular.

Jordan’s الاردن. country-code top-level domain has taken only about 150 registrations since its launch last October, according to a report in the Jordan Times.

The poor showing has been attributed to both a lack of awareness and a lack of demand. The article quotes Mahmoud Al Kurdi, sales and marketing manager at regional presence provider Virtuport:

If a person does not even know how to type the address of a certain website in English letters, he or she can type in Arabic letters on Google and search for the website. I see no point in typing address in Arabic letters. It is not convenient.

The sentiments are echoed in the article by other local experts, while the registry, the National Information Technology Centre, said it is planning a marketing campaign to drum up interest.

There could be other reasons for slack adoption – Jordan’s IDNs costs $140 for the first two years and $35 per year thereafter. There are also strict rules governing who can register.

Meanwhile in Russia, .РФ had taken 855,751 registrations by June 30, according to the registry’s first-half 2011 report, following its scandal-tinged launch eight months earlier.

Russia is of course substantially larger than Jordan – which has a population smaller than that of London – with ten times as many internet users as Jordan has citizens.

It’s official: South Sudan to get .ss

Kevin Murphy, August 11, 2011, Domain Registrars

The new African nation of South Sudan has officially been given the two-letter country code SS, meaning it is likely just months away from getting the top-level domain .ss.

The SS string appeared on the International Standards Organization’s ISO 3166-1-alpha-2 code list this week, following a request by the government of the country.

The 3166 list is the standard by which ICANN judges a territory’s eligibility to be delegated a country-code top-level domain.

South Sudan does not yet appear on IANA’s list of ccTLDs, but it’s likely to be added soon.

The last three nations to form, following the breakup of the Netherlands Antilles last October, already have ccTLD records in the IANA database, although none have yet been officially delegated to a registry or added to the DNS root system.

The delegation of a new ccTLDs is usually a much more straightforward proposition than the redelegation of an existing ccTLD to a new manager, which can take many years.

South Sudan declared independence July 9 this year and was officially recognized by the United Nations five days later.

It’s one of the world’s poorest and unhealthiest nations: it is estimated that 11% of its children die before their fifth birthday and that 2% of mothers die in childbirth.

Getting a ccTLD is probably quite low on the nation’s list of priorities.

According to reports, the South Sudan government was well aware of the connection “SS” has to the Nazis in Europe when it asked for the string.

It’s pretty tenuous connection, and I doubt anyone reasonable would take offense, but the incoming registry may want to add a few well-chosen strings to its reserved list just in case.

Could .om become the next typo TLD?

Will Oman’s .om domain follow in the footsteps of .co? Or .cm? Or neither?

The country-code top-level domain is set to be transferred to a new manager following an ICANN vote this coming Thursday.

The redelegation is one item on a unusually light agenda for the board’s July 28 telephone meeting. It’s on the consent agenda, so it will likely be rubber-stamped without discussion.

The domain is currently assigned to Oman Telecommunications Company, but the new owner is expected to be the national Telecommunications Regulatory Authority or an affiliated entity.

The Omani TRA was given authority over the nation’s domain names by Royal Decree in 2002.

It has already successfully had the Arabic-script ccTLD .عمان approved by ICANN for use as an internationalized domain name, but the IDN has not yet been delegated.

AusRegistry International this March won a $1.3 million contract with the TRA to provide software and services for the .om and .عمان registries.

At the time, the TRA said it planned to market both Latin and Arabic extensions to increase the number of domain registrations.

The .om ccTLD is of course a .com typo, like .co and .cm, but squatting is not currently possible due to its strict registration policies.

Only Omani entities may register .om domains today, and only third-level domains (such as example.com.om and example.net.om) may be registered. Domains may not be resold.

I have no particular reason to believe this situation will change under new stewardship, but it will certainly be worth keeping an eye on the TLD for possible policy changes.

When Cameroon’s .cm opened up, it implemented a widely vilified blanket wildcard in an attempt to profit from .com typos.

Colombia’s .co of course took the responsible route, disowning wildcards and embracing strong anti-squatting measures, even if its mere existence was still a headache for some trademark owners.

Three more countries get IDNs

Kevin Murphy, April 24, 2011, Domain Registries

Citizens of Algeria, Morocco and Serbia will soon be able to use domain names in their local Arabic and Cyrillic-based languages, after ICANN approved internationalized domain names for the three nations.

The three new ccTLDs are الجزائر (meaning “Al Jazair” for Algeria), المغرب (“al-Maghrib”, for Morocco) and .срб (“srb” for Serbia).

ICANN’s board approved the requests at a meeting on Thursday. They could enter the domain name system’s root in as little as 10 days, though delegations usually take longer.

There are now 37 IDN ccTLDs in IANA’s database of top-level domains, covering 27 countries.

On Thursday, ICANN also approved the redelegation of North Korea’s ASCII ccTLD, .kp, to an entity called Star Joint Venture Company.