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.AU domain registrations

Posted on November 1st, 2019

What is this .AU domain registration thing about anyway?

The current state of play of top level .au registrations, as of 1st November 2019.

Author:

Steve Hampson – C.E.O – GoHosting Pty Ltd
Date: 1/11/2019

Introduction

Very soon, approved Australian internet users will be able to switch from third-level .au domains (e.g.: ‘example.com.au’ or ‘example.org.au’) to the 2nd level (e.g.: ‘example.au’).

Traditionally, individuals and organisations have been able to register domains only at the third level, and even the selection of domains to register has itself been heavily regulated. However, there has been a clear trend over the years whereby these regulations have been relaxed.
More changes are coming, with a wider range of second-level registrations to be made publicly available.

My own opinions on the reasoning and benefits of this trend are outside the scope of this article. Suffice to say, I’m not fully supportive of the reasons behind the change and I believe it will lead to an erosion of public trust in .au domains. However, certain others believe it’s a good thing, so it looks like it will be happening.

This article is an attempt to help our customers (most of whom are .au domain owners) understand where that process currently is, and what they might need to do in order to adapt to these new rules.

I assume that most customers would like to secure a second-level .au domain which matches their current third-level domain. For many of those, the process will be relatively straight forward, but for others it may not be possible at all, and they may waste precious time in the attempt.

The current state of play

It is now well established that at some point in the future, the public will get their hands on 2nd level .au domains. The .au Domain Administration Ltd (auDA – the governing body for the .au namespace) has been working with the industry to come up with a plan to implement the transition.

A prominent challenge is that if they were to simply grant access, allowing all and sundry to register, it would likely result in a free-for-all mess, with many unhappy customers, as well as very few happy capitalists who wish to merely sell domains to legitimate business operators.

Many of the rules surrounding the .au namespace exist to restrict registrations to only those with legitimate purposes (this is also the reason why I think the .au namespace is probably the best namespace in the world). These rules prevent undesirable phenomena like ‘domain squatting’, i.e., keeping a domain in bad faith, such as intent to profit from someone else’s brand.

The auDA had targeted the fourth quarter of 2019 for launch of 2TLD .au domain registrations. However, this deadline has now been pushed to “the first half of 2020”. One might infer from this delay that the rules and processes may still be up for change.

How will it work?

Bearing in mind that the details are under negotiations, this is what is currently proposed (and in my opinion will most likely happen):

1) People with existing 3rd level .au registrations will be given first opportunity to register the equivalent .au. For example, if you are the current owner of the domain ‘gohosting.com.au’, you will have the opportunity to apply for the .au ahead of the general public. You will receive a password from your existing domain registrar. You may use that password at any accredited .au domain registrar to put in your application.

2) If no other parties hold a matching domain, then your registration will be processed.

3) If, on the other hand, another party holds a matching domain (for example, if someone else owned ‘gohosting.net.au’) and both you AND the other party registered these domains on time, then the domain will be up for contention.

4) If the other party fails to submit their application, then the domain will go to you after the six-month application period closes.

5) If the other party submits their application and the domain is in contention, then both parties will receive each other’s contact information. The intention is that they will make contact and come to a financial settlement, whereby one party releases the domain to the other. If such negotiations fail, the domain will remain in contention and neither party will obtain it. The auDA is planning to establish a holding webpage that will display links to both eligible second level domains.

6) If you registered your .au domain after 4th Feb 2018, you still have a chance – if there is either no matching domain registered before 4th Feb 2018, or the domain owners fail to submit an application, then you will be eligible for the domain.

7) People with existing 3rd level .au registrations will be given first opportunity to register the equivalent .au. For example, if you are the current owner of the domain ‘gohosting.com.au’, you will have the opportunity to apply for the .au ahead of the general public. You will receive a password from your existing domain registrar. You may use that password at any accredited .au domain registrar to put in your application.

8) If no other parties hold a matching domain, then your registration will be processed.

9) If, on the other hand, another party holds a matching domain (for example, if someone else owned ‘gohosting.net.au’) and both you AND the other party registered these domains on time, then the domain will be up for contention.

10) If the other party fails to submit their application, then the domain will go to you after the six-month application period closes.

11) If the other party submits their application and the domain is in contention, then both parties will receive each other’s contact information. The intention is that they will make contact and come to a financial settlement, whereby one party releases the domain to the other. If such negotiations fail, the domain will remain in contention and neither party will obtain it. The auDA is planning to establish a holding webpage that will display links to both such unobtained domains.

12) If you registered your .au domain after 4th Feb 2018, you still have a chance – if there is either no matching domain registered before 4th Feb 2018, or the domain owners fail to submit an application, then you will be eligible for the domain.

For some, the above might be a painful process; for the majority, it will be straight forward.

We would love to hear your comments or questions on these proposed new .AU domain policies, so please email ourspace@gohosting.com.au, we would love to hear from you.