NIC Argentina launched second level ‘.ar’ domains

02-12-2019
agenda

NIC Argentina announced the launch of '.ar' domains. The launch process was designed in a series of stages in order to protect the rights of current domain name holders before registration is available to the entire community.

We interviewed the team in charge of the initiative, who talked about the process, the stages of registration and the launch objectives.

How was the initiative to launch ‘.ar’ domains born? What are the objectives of the launch? The initiative arose as a need of our Users. Until now, the registration directly in the ‘.ar’ was available only for government agencies. We understood that it was a pending issue and that we should extend the possibilities of registration to the whole community. And we took it as such, as a new zone that neither competes nor replaces other zones such as ‘.gob.ar’, ‘.org.ar’ or ‘.tur.ar’ that have their own distinctive characteristics: they ensure that behind a website of this type there is a person or institution validated to operate as such, according to each case (government agency, non-profit organization or authorized tourism agency, respectively).

In short, this initiative was born with the objective of promoting the growth and democratization of the network in Argentina and aims to offer a context of new opportunities by expanding the possibilities of registration.

What are the opportunities and benefits that ‘.ar’ domains offer to registrants?

The launch of ‘.ar’ offers a greater variety of domains for Users and the community, generating more memorable and versatile alternatives that allow playing with words that end in ‘ar’ and can be easily found. At the same time, as a domain from Argentina, it enhances the website's outreach and brings Users closer to their audiences.

How did you design the process for opening the second level in the ‘.ar’ domains?

The launch of the ‘.ar’ domains was designed in a three-year work process. It was the outcome of analyzing different international success stories and the implementation of best practices aimed at discouraging or minimizing potential abuses by improper or speculative registration. Essentially, it was based on a comparative analysis conducted on the experiences of the ccTLDs of Mexico (.mx) and Colombia (.co) that had gone through similar initiatives, each dealing with its own paradigms and specific issues. We learned a lot from them. The transparency demonstrated by both countries in implementing their models –by publishing all the information related to the process and clearly explaining the rules for domain registration– allowed us to take all that knowledge and apply it to our context. At that point, an arduous planning process began. We sought to focus in every detail, to analyze pros and cons, jump over obstacles and define what the process would be like. Much of this work is published in a specific section for ‘.ar’ domains on our website, in addition to many other documents that were part of the project development process. We would like to edit and publish them to serve as experience for other registries as well.

What aspects of the registration process were given the most attention?

In line with the above, the most important thing for us was to approach the launch from a logic of transparency, with clear rules, specific information and where the main aim was to inform the entire community about what we were going to do and how.

What are the general stages of the launch process? How did you seek to protect current ‘.ar’ domain name holders?

A transparent and gradual process was designed in order to provide mechanisms for protecting the rights of current domain name holders. Two stages were planned prior to the General Availability of ‘.ar’ domains. The first stage, called Preference Registration, was intended for Holders of domain names registered prior to December 1, 2015, who were able to register the same name under the ‘.ar’. Thus, for example, the current Owner of ‘mydomain.com.ar’ had preference to register ‘mydomain.ar’ during this stage. The Preference Registration stage lasted from 09/11/2019 to 11/09/2019 and the fee to register a domain during this period was AR $270 (Argentine pesos).

In the case of different Registrants with the same domain name registered under different zones –for example, ‘mydomain.com.ar’ and ‘mydomain.net.ar’– both had the possibility to apply for registration. The priority to register the ‘.ar’ was resolved by a draw of the applications carried out by the Lottery of the City of Buenos Aires.

The second stage is called Interest Registration, which started on 28/11. At this stage, all Users who wish to register an available ‘.ar’ domain will be able to do so. If there is more than one interested party for the same domain name, the order of priority for registration will also be assigned by a draw conducted by the City of Buenos Aires Lottery, once the stage is over. At this stage, all applicants must pay a ‘Registration Application Fee’ of AR $200. Those who, according to the results of the draw, have priority to register the ‘.ar’ domain must pay the corresponding registration fee of AR $340.

Once both stages are concluded, the ‘.ar’ domains will begin to be available to all Users, according to the current registration mechanisms.

How is the opening going? Which impact do you think this launch will have on the ‘.ar’ namespace?

Although, as we previously mentioned, it was planned in detail, unfortunately, due to political decisions, we had to speed up processes that we wished were longer and more participative. As part of what we had planned, we had thought of giving the community a place to participate in the model definitions, but timing went against the implementation of these measures. Also, we would have liked to create an advisory committee that could formally advise us, apart from receiving comments and suggestions from members of the global Internet community. In any case, the results have been positive. Now that the Preference Registry has concluded, we have 37,941 '.ar' domains registered. We believe that these are reasonable numbers for the time being and that, in view of the next stage, the number of registered domains will continue to grow. We do not intend to get full of ‘.ar’ domains but to offer a new possibility of registration to the whole community, in pursuit of the Internet's growth.