• Archive for August, 2009

    Introducing .AG, the ccTLD of Antigua and Barbuda

    August 27, 2009 // No Comments »

    Continuing with more “A” ccTLDs, the next one I want to highlight is .AG, the official country code Top-Level-Domain of the beautiful island of “Antigua and Barbuda”.

    Antigua and Barbuda Facts*:

    • Located East to South-East of Puerto Rico between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic
    • Estimated population of 86,000.
    • 37,500 Telephone Lines in use (est. 2006)
    • 2,215 Internet Hosts
    • 60,000 Internet Users

    The .AG Registry:

    • The official website http://www.NIC.AG
    • Restrictions: None (anyone worldwide)
    • .AG, .com.AG, .net.AG, .org.AG, .co.AG and .nom.AG.
    • Statistics – not currently available

    Reasons for registering an .AG Domain:

    1. .AG represents the country of Antigua and Barbuda
    2. .AG can be used to represent certain types of companies, especially targeting PLC companies in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.  The abbrev. for such companies in these countries is .AG (e.g. AUDI AG)
    3. .AG can be used to represent “Agricultural Businesses”

    If you are or service German, Austrian or Swiss companies and are interested in registering multiple .AG domains, please do not hesitate to contact Dennis Nizard at dnizard@hexonet.net or sales@hexonet.net.

    * https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ac.html.

    Posted in Domains, General, HEXONET

    ICANN Regional Meeting and More Questions on nTLDs

    August 25, 2009 // No Comments »

    ICANN Regional Meeting – Toronto, Canada

    Thanks to ICANN for hosting the North America Regional meeting at the Sheraton in downtown Toronto, Canada.  This event was done first class and was in my opinion a highly successful meeting.  A special thanks goes out to Afilias for sponsoring the “Blue Jays” vs. “Red-Sox” baseball game at Rogers Centre, it was a blast.

    At this regional ICANN meeting many interesting topics were covered.  Some topics though not at the foremost of my mind, surprisingly were not only highly interesting but very informative.  The topics were:

    • ICANN Policy
    • Terminated Registrar Transition Process
    • new gTLDs
    • Contractual Compliance
    • Registry/Registrar Dialogue
    • Update on the Registrar Constituency
    • Security Issues
    • National Cyber Forensic Training Alliance (NCFTA) & FBI

    Among all the topics, the new TLD process continues to dominate mind share as expected.  Specifically for nTLDs, my take away from the meeting in Toronto, was that the next draft guidebook for applicants should be ready prior to the ICANN meeting in Seoul in late October. So it looks like full steam ahead for nTLDs!

    With so many TLDs (estimate 100 – 200 plus) presumably in queue for filing (.food, .wine, .blog, .movie, .eco … ), I would really like to get some insight on how these new TLDs will be introduced.  Moreover, if applications are to  be approved in batches, in what order will these approved TLDs be released and in what groupings.  Questions that come to mind are:

    a. Will there be a specific order in which new TLDs are launched?

    b. If yes, what is the criteria in determining launch order?  Will the criteria be open and reviewable?

    c. If there is no order and it becomes “Launch whenever ready”, what potential confusion could there be to the market if too many nTLDs are released in the same month?  How will the market be able to compensate this?

    d. Other open questions?  YES!

    A License to Print Money

    One big lesson everyone is learning now from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, is that free money is not free.  The loosening of restrictions in the housing market (anyone could get a house or borrow against their home) let the unqualified to buy and borrow, which in the end (when they couldn’t pay their debts) started the collapse of the house market.  In some ways, there are parallels in the way we are treating nTLDs.

    Not to say the applicants for nTLDs are not qualified, but more importantly, to point out the fact that running a successful registry today is increasingly more difficult.  The days of simply opening a registry and seeing millions of registrations are long gone.  Yes the days of “printing money” in my opinion are over, unless you have a unique concept.

    I believe our industry is projecting the idea that running a registry is easy – No experience necessary, work only a little, make big money!  Without giving applicants a dose of the operational reality of running a successful registry, we are only increasing the chances of having more of them fail.  When enough nTLDs fail, just like the housing bubble burst, everyone will get hurt.

    Posted in Domains, General, New TLDs

    Introducing the ccTLD of Austria .AT

    August 13, 2009 // No Comments »

    In my previous blogpost titled “Unifying ccTLDs“, I mentioned that I would start a series of posts on ccTLDs.  Where better to start than the letter “A”?  In this post I am writing about .AT, the official ccTLD of Austria.

    Some basic facts about NIC.AT:

    • Anyone worldwide can register an .AT domain, there are no restrictions
    • Official registry behind .AT is NIC.AT
    • Extensions that are open for registration: .AT, .co.AT & .or.AT
    • Min.  / Max. length of a .AT Domain: 3 – 63 characters
    • IDN Capable: YES

    Some stats on .AT Registrations:

    • Total .AT registrations from last count were 868,480 .AT Domains
    • 833,545 registered .AT Domains
    • 28,227 registered .co.AT Domains
    • 6,708 registered .or.AT Domains

    Distribution of Registrants by country:

    1. Austria -> 595,354 Domains (68.55%)
    2. Germany -> 169,225 Domains (19.49%)
    3. Switzerland -> 19,579 Domains (2.25%)
    4. Rest of EU -> 47,397 Domains (5.46%)
    5. Rest of World -> 36,925 Domains (4.25%)

    According to IPS (Internet Profiling Service) statistics, provided by VeriSign, for the month of June and for all domains under management, the following information was available about .AT:

    • .AT Domains with multi-page content –> 52.80%
    • .AT Domains that were redirected –> 19.11%
    • .AT Domains that are being parked and have pay-per-click –> 8.30%
    • .AT Domains that do not resolve –> 19.79%

    A quick note on Verisign’s IPS.  The service remarkably monitors, analyzes, and consolidates data about domains, which is important to see how people are using a particular TLD.  For instance, it is quite amazing that nearly 20% of all .AT domains don’t even resolve!

    Now back to .AT.  Even without doing a side by side comparison with another ccTLD, I can say the numbers for .AT are actually looking very healthy.  The only area of concern is the aforementioned number of non-resolving domains.  To see further details and information on .AT domains, I high encourage people to visit  NIC.AT and read The Internet-Service-Profiling breakdown.

    A particular bit of information about .AT, not freely available in these reports, is the going market price point for .AT domains.  With a bit of snooping, I found a large and significant price difference between registrars.  Within the EU, registrars are pricing .AT domains retail between 20 -30 EUR.  Outside of the EU, registrars are charging double or more, from 40 – 80 EUR!  This just proves that taking the time to find the best registrar with the best price will save money.  For those of you who want to save time, I would recommend HEXONET.NET – and yes I work for HEXONET so I am a little biased ;-) .

    The final note on the .AT registry is about the people who work there.  Some great individuals are at the registry and they are always willing to lend a helping hand.  If you want to learn more about .AT or just want to know more about Austria, simple send them an email and they will happily respond.

    Posted in Domains, General, HEXONET

    Unifying ccTLDs

    August 6, 2009 // 1 Comment »

    The Good, Bad and the Ugly

    Being an active and vocal participant in the Domain industry for the better part of a decade has allowed me to see both the good and bad in our business.  Of the good things, in fact very good, has been country-code top level domains (ccTLDs).  Country-code TLDs are simple to understand, easily associated with, and even evoke a sense of ownership (patriotism), which is the perfect formula for a successful TLD.

    Though ccTLDs have been good for our industry, the single glaring problem with them has been the lack of standards across the ccTLD registries.  Understanding issues of culture, nationalism, and some registries just wanting to be different, this doesn’t take away the fact that with a standard (EPP) there would invariably be more registrars offering a wider selection of ccTLDs.  And with greater availability, access and distribution of ccTLDs, it’s not hard to imagine ccTLDs numbers looking completely different than they do today.  Until the ccTLD registries can be unified, registrars will have neither the time nor money to consider but a handful of ccTLDs at a time.

    Climbing the Mountain

    Even without a standard, HEXONET has taken on the arduous task of bringing all the world’s ccTLD registries under one roof.  Today, HEXONET’s ccTLD EPP platform allows resellers and registrars alike to access over 150 ccTLDs from one source.  Yes over 150 via EPP!  And the list continues to grow.

    To provide this service, HEXONET has for many few years been obtaining a vast array of accreditations, investing substantial capital into registry accounts, building up critical operational and engineering expertise about each and every registry, and last but not least, poured thousands of engineering hours into developing an EPP connection for each registry, even if the registry doesn’t support EPP!  The end result, allows anyone to quickly and profitably offer hundreds of ccTLDs without any engineering or financial risk.  HEXONET has made it utterly simple.

    Why Climb the Mountain

    Though the goal of unifying the ccTLDs under one protocol and one supplier was ambitious, the need for such a service was clear.  The global scope of business today require companies protect their brands across the world.  Businesses don’t have the time to peck and hunt through multiple registrars to get the ccTLDs they need.  Even registrars need such a service, since they don’t have the time, money or expertise to embark on such an endeavor, they would rather spend their energies on making money.

    HEXONET from its genesis has been an engineering centric company.  Without this critical characteristic, I doubt the ccTLD EPP platform would have even been attempted.  HEXONET engineers like to work on big problems, so tackling the ccTLD unification issue was right in the company’s sweet spot!  Ever hear the phrase, “bitting off more than you can chew”?  At times, this project felt exactly like that old adage.  Imagine researching, planning, developing, testing, and testing again against every operation and command across virtually every non-EPP registry.  Even for registries who were EPP complaint, because of home spun EPP extensions, HEXONET had to provide a mapping of those extensions into standard EPP.  The end result is HEXONET’s EPP 1.0 Gateway for ccTLDs, which is fully compliant to EPP 1.0 (RFC 4930-4933), the first of its kind industry wide.

    Win-Win for Everyone

    As I stated at the top of this post, among the best things in our industry for me has been ccTLDs, except for the unification issue.  A big reason for coming to HEXONET and joining forces once again with Jens Wagner was to do something special, which not only helps HEXONET, but ultimately helps our industry.  I believe our ccTLD EPP 1.0 platform really accomplishes both goals.

    HEXONET is even allowing connectivity to the EPP platform without charge.  Wholesale domain registration rates are extremely competitive and are only paid at the time of registration.  Even large registrars with their own accreditations have free use of the the EPP connections via HEXONET’s Registrar Operations Center, which is the company’s high performance and highly available turnkey registrar platform.  Migrating is also a breeze since the EPP connection is the same, whether one is connecting to HEXONET’s accreditation or their own, clients who have enough volume to be accredited for a particular ccTLD can seamlessly upgrade with the ease of flipping a switch. No engineering, no time, not even missing a transaction.

    The win-win story of ccTLDs is only possible because someone went ahead and built/implemented a standard, in this case the EPP standard.  In a future series of Blog Posts I will attempt to introduce some ccTLDs registries.  Please stay tuned …

    Posted in Domains, General, HEXONET, New TLDs