Latest .AT Report Outlines Policy Differences Between ccTLDs and gTLDs

nic.at logoNew gTLDs are coming online now and the first will be available for general registration in quarter one 2014. But what will differentiate these new gTLDs to existing country code TLDs?

That’s a question posed in the latest at report from the Austrian registry, nic.at. The big differences, the report notes, will be in policies such as “who exactly is allowed to register a domain and under what conditions? And what kinds of restrictions are in place?”

As the report notes, policies for existing ccTLDs have evolved over the last 25 years, and the new gTLDs have been able to learn from what works and doesn’t work, with terms and conditions that reflect this, and the objective of the new gTLD. Additionally, ICANN criteria need to be taken into account as well as stakeholder expectations, national statutory frameworks and investors also have a role to play.

The latest .at report gives an insight into developing policy and guidelines for a TLD. As well, what differences are there between the policy models governing gTLDs and ccTLDs? And to whatextent can they influence the commercial success of a TLD?

The point is also made the regulators and laws within a country have an influence over policies for a ccTLD. And to change policies, ccTLDs are often required to undertake extensive consultation with their stakeholders, such as is the case with .uk and .nz, where the registries have undertaken extensive community consultation before they have been able to make changes such as the introduction of second level registrations.

So what are the differences between a ccTLD and a gTLD. The .at report notes that the former’s policies have evolved and reflect peculiarities of each country or governing body, while gTLDs “have a contract with ICANN based on American law and are committed to following certain standardised policies, and regulatory and administrative processes. As part of a time-consuming and expensive application process, applicants for new top level domains must provide detailed evidence of their technical and commercial capabilities and go through a rigorous, multi-layered evaluation process.”

Another difference is ccTLD registrants have a “triangular” relationship, entering into a contract with their registrar and registry, while with gTLDs, registrants “have a contractual relationship with the registrar, who has a legal relationship with the registry (and the registry, in turn, has a contractual relationship with ICANN).”

The length of the “contract” also varies. With ccTLDs there are variations, but in the main, as is the case with nic.at, “when registering a .at domain the domain holder is deemed to have accepted a continuing obligation. This means that the domain (and therefore the contract) is perpetuated until such time as the owner actively cancels it.” With gTLDs though, “the contractual relationship has a limited term, and expires automatically once the agreed term ends. This means that the domain expires on its own – unless the owner pays again and in so doing extends the contractual relationship.”

As for how to register a domain, this also varies from ccTLD to ccTLD, but with .at, registrants can either register a domain via nic.at or an accredited registrar whereas for gTLDs “domains can only be registered via ICANN accredited registrars or official resellers. They cannot be registered directly with the registry.”

In other topics covered in the latest .at report, there are interviews with Alexander Mayrhofer, head of Research & Development at nic.at who has been working with the Saudi Arabian ccTLD .sa, another with Neil Dundas, Executive Director of ZA Central Registry (ZACR) while there is a third with Markus Eggensperger, CEO of united-domains AG, Starnberg.

The latest .at report, along with an archive of previous editions, is available for download in full from:
www.nic.at/en/uebernic/current_issues/at_report/