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Gee, thanks. auDA cuts price of .au names by five cents

Australian ccTLD registry auDA has cut the wholesale price of .au domains by a measly five cents, according to local reports.

Aussie domainer blog Domainer reports that registry back-end provider Afilias, owned by Donuts, has notified registrars that the price is coming down to AUD 7.83 ($5.56), from AUD 7.88, not including sales tax.

The cut kicks in June 1 and effects all new registrations, renewals and transfers.

With about 3.6 million .au domains under management, that amounts to $180,000 a year out of the registry’s pocket, but the price reduction obviously won’t be noticeable for any but the most prolific domain collector.

2LDs boost .au’s growth

Kevin Murphy, March 28, 2022, Domain Registries

Australian ccTLD registry auDA has been reporting registration volumes growing much faster than usual in the days since it started selling .au domains directly at the second level.

The company is currently reporting a grand total of 3,492,366 domains, which is up by almost 78,000 since March 24, when 2LDs went on sale.

Normally, .au rarely grows by more than about 500 domains per day.

Right now and for the next six months, all 2LDs have been reserved for the owners of their exact-match third-level domains, so there’s not the same kind of rush you might expect in a first-come, first-served scenario.

.au names available today

Kevin Murphy, March 24, 2022, Domain Registries

Australians are able to register domain names directly under .au for the first time today, after ccTLD registry auDA liberalized its hierarchy.

Second-level names under .au will at first only be available to existing registrants of matching third-level names in zones such as .com.au and .net.au, under a priority allocation process.

This process lasts for six months and allows domain owners to claim their matching 2LD more or less immediately, assuming there are no other registrants with matching rights.

In cases where more than one registrant applies for the name domain — such as when example.com.au and example.net.au are owned by different people — a contention process kicks in.

Registrants with reg dates before the cut-off of February 4, 2018 get priority over those with later dates.

If there are only registrants with names newer than the cut-off date, the oldest one gets priority.

If there are only registrants with names older than the cut-off date, they’ll have to come to a bilateral agreement about who gets the name. If they can’t come to a deal, the name stays reserved, and the applicants will have to renew their applications annually, until only one applicant remains.

There are no auDA-backed auctions envisaged by the process.

Any domains that are unclaimed at the end of the priority process will be released into the available pool on September 20.

It’s a much shorter grandfathering period than other liberalized ccTLDs, such as Nominet, which gave .co.uk registrants five years to claim their matching 2LD, and it will be interesting to see what impact this has on uptake.

Direct .uk domains became available in June 2014, and six months later barely a quarter million had been registered, against over 10 million third-level names.

As the five-year priority window drew to a close in 2019, there were about 2.5 million .uk 2LDs, but this spiked to 3.6 million in the final month, as registrants waited until the last minute to claim their names.

That turned out to be the peak — .uk 2LDs stand at fewer than 1.4 million today, compared to the 9.7 million third-level names. It’s still quite rare to spot a direct .uk name in the wild here.

One interesting kink in the priority process is that auDA, which has stricter rules than many other ccTLDs, will check that anyone who applies for a 2LD is in fact eligible for the 3LD they currently hold, which could dissuade applications.

.au currently has 3.4 million third-level domains under management.

Another DNSSEC screw-up takes down thousands of .au domains

Kevin Murphy, March 22, 2022, Domain Registries

Australia’s ccTLD has become the latest to see a widespread outage that appears to be the result of a DNSSEC misconfiguration.

A reported 15,000 .au domains were affected, though some suspect it could have been more.

Registry overseer auDA said on Twitter that .au “experienced an error” that affected a “small number of domains” and that an investigation was underway.

Donuts subsidiary Afilias, which runs the back-end for .au’s more that 3.4 million domains, has yet to publicly comment.

Network operators and DNS experts took to social media and mailing lists to observe that .au’s DNSSEC was broken, though it appears the problem was fixed rather quickly.

DNSSEC creates a chain of cryptographic keys all the way to the DNS root, and when that chain is broken by a misconfiguration such as a missing key, most DNSSEC-enabled resolvers treat the affected domains as if they simply don’t exist.

That means services such as web sites and email addresses stop working until the chain is reestablished. People not using DNSSEC resolvers wouldn’t have seen a problem.

It’s the third TLD to experience a significant outage due to DNSSEC in the last six weeks.

In February, thousands of domains in Sweden’s .se went dark for hours, and Fiji’s entire .fj zone disappeared for DNSSEC users less than two weeks ago.

The outage comes at a particularly unfortunate time in terms of public relations for auDA, which on Thursday will start making direct second-level .au registrations available for the first time.

It’s not immediately clear whether the DNSSEC fluff is related to the SLD launch.

auDA ramps up marketing for direct .au launch

Kevin Murphy, February 7, 2022, Domain Registries

Australian domain overseer auDA has started national advertising for its second-level .au registration launch next month.

The organization said today it has started running television, radio, outdoor and digital ads, and will continue to do so through to November.

Second-level .au domains become available March 24, on a first-come, first-served basis if there are not already matching third-level domains.

If there’s a matching .com.au or .net.au, registered before February 4, 2018, applications for the 2LDs will be handled via a priority allocation process that runs for six months.

auDA’s marketing campaign focuses on five keywords that have a general meaning in English and also a unique or somewhat distinctive meaning in Australian English: station, pavlova, gummy, stoked and stubby.

A “gummy” could mean a type of confectionery, but “gummy.au” could refer to a type of shark that stalks Aussie waters, for example.

Microsites have been launched for each keyword, but they’re not all resolving for me yet.

Delta variant cranks up Aussie domain regs in Q3

Kevin Murphy, November 18, 2021, Domain Registries

Australia’s ccTLD had a growth spurt in the third quarter, driven by pandemic lockdown rules.

Local registry auDA today reported that it took 171,846 new domain creates in Q3, up 22% on Q2. There were over 60,500 new regs in July, making it .au’s second-biggest sales month of all time.

auDA said in its quarterly report (pdf):

This increase took place at a time when COVID-19 restrictions were re-introduced in several states, and followed a levelling out of demand and seasonal dip over Easter in Q2. However, Q3 registrations are only slightly below the same period in 2020, which experienced a historic peak in new domain names created, driven by COVID-19.

Such lockdown bumps were experienced by many registries in 2020, as bricks-and-mortar businesses rushed to get an online presence to continue functioning while stores and venues were closed.

The delta variant of Covid-19 started worrying Australia in June, leading to lockdown rules in major cities that lasted most or all of July. The country has had a relatively low incidence of the virus, but has taken a hard line on restrictions.

At the end of September, .au registrations were up 5% at 3,386,186 names, auDA said. The .com.au level names were up 6% but .net.au was down 1.5%.

Next March, Australia will follow in the footsteps of some other ccTLDs and make second-level .au domains available for the first time.

Second-level .au names coming next March with tight deadline

Kevin Murphy, August 19, 2021, Domain Registries

Australia will soon become the latest country with an historical three-level ccTLD structure to offer second-level domains directly under .au.

Local registry auDA said today that direct SLD regs will become available next March.

It’s not the first country to do this — Australia follows the UK and New Zealand in de-emphasizing .co.nz and .co.uk in favor of SLDs.

But it’s giving registrants a much shorter deadline to claim their matching domains.

Unlike the UK, where registrants had five years to grab their matches before they became generally available, Aussies will only get six months.

Existing registrants will get first refusal on their matching domains. In cases of contention — where the .com.au and .net.au are registered to different people, for example — the registrant with the oldest domain gets priority.

Australian presence rules also apply.

Olympics: Australia preemptively blocking Brisbane 2032 regs

With the venue for the 2032 Olympic Games revealed as Brisbane, Australia last week, the .au registry this week asked people to stop trying to register Olympics-related domains, because they won’t work.

Local ccTLD registry overseer auDA said in a blog post that it’s seen a spike in attempts to register domains containing the string “olympics” and variants since the announcement was made a week ago.

But these strings are on auDA’s reserved list, which cannot be registered even as substrings without government permission. Only the Australian Olympic Committee is allowed to register such domains.

According to auDA, the protected strings are: olympic, olympics, olympicgames, olympiad and olympiads.

It’s a more comprehensive approach to protecting Olympic “trademarks” (for want of a better word) than that employed by ICANN in its gTLD registry contracts, where the various Olympic and Red Cross/Crescent organizations are among a privileged few to enjoy unique protections.

ICANN only requires registries to block the exact-match string from registration, while auDA will block substrings also.

auDA says the domain “BrissiOlympics.com.au” would be blocked. It would not in any ICANN gTLD.

Aussie ccTLD surges under coronavirus lockdown

Australia’s .au ccTLD may have been in decline recently, but it saw a surge in new domain registrations during its coronavirus lockdown, according to registry stats.

auDA said that 48,754 new .au domains were registered in April, a more than 23% increase on its April 2019 number.

The registry called this leap “the biggest month for new domain name creations we’ve seen in a while”. It averages about 40,000 per month, with seasonality.

The overall number of extant registrations was down a bit to 3,168,883, but auDA chalks this up to the expiration of domains registered during registrar promotions a year ago.

Australia was under its lockdown, which was less severe than in other countries, for the whole month of April. The measures were put in place March 21 and relaxed last week.

Numbers for March show a year-over-year decline of 1.4% in new adds.

While auDA does not attribute its April growth to lockdown, I think the numbers show that the movement restrictions imposed certainly didn’t hurt .au’s business.

New CEO to step into the lion’s den at auDA

Kevin Murphy, January 14, 2020, Domain Registries

Australian ccTLD manager auDA has named its next CEO: Rosemary Sinclair, current CEO of Energy Consumers Australia.
She’ll join the organization in March, about nine months after the last guy, Cameron Boardman, quit after enduring three years of controversy.
Sinclair appears to come from the consumer side of the house. As well as being a “demand-class” member of auDA, she’s also the founding CEO of ECA, which was set up to represent the rights of Australian energy customers.
She’s been involved in auDA before, sitting as a non-executive director from 2009 to 2011, and was also involved heavily in the ICANN community around the same time.
She joins the organization at a time of change, with controversial initiatives such as the release of second-level .au domains on the horizon. She’s unlikely to get an easy ride; auDA members can be a vocal, activist bunch at times.
Sinclair is a Member of the Order of Australia, an honorific handed out by the Queen, meaning she gets to put AM after her name.
She’s NOT the octogenarian former Miss Australia that pops up first when you Google her name, as much as this headline-writer wants her to be.