Post- og teletilsynet UNINETT
Liberalization of the .no domain name policy

In 1999, Norid prepared a proposal for a new domain name policy for .no. The proposal entailed a major liberalization in comparison to the domain name policy in effect at the time. The most significant changes proposed were several domain names per applicant and no longer requiring that the applicant document an association with the name in question. To ensure that the proposal was in accordance with the desires of the Norwegian Internet community, Norid invited comments from the public in the fall of 1999. The report based on these comments is posted at 

http://www.norid.no/regelverk/forslag/liberalisering-1999/hrapport.html

The policy was approved by Minister of Transport and Communication Terje Moe Gustavsen in December 2000.

Transition to the new policy

The transition to the new policy was implemented in February 2001. The transition included a period in which the order that several applications for a single name were processed was determined by drawing lots.

Applications received during this period was given a preliminary processing and subsequently stored. No registrations were made during this period. Duplicate applications where a single organization had repeatedly requested the same domain name were removed. At the end of a period a drawing of lots were conducted to determine the order in which Norid would process applications for the same domain name. For each domain name, the first valid application according to the name policy was approved. After the processing of the stored applications the system was opened for normal admission of applications under the new name policy.

Figure 1: Overview of the transition
Overview of the transition

The Norwegian Post and Telecommunications Authority (PT) and Norid has evaluated the transition to a new domain name policy, and conducted a preliminary evaluation of the new name policy itself. The evaluation report is published at

http://www.norid.no/regelverk/forslag/liberalisering-1999/evaluering.en.html

There was a large influx of messages during the transition period; a total of 43795 domain name applications were received by Norid from February 19 through February 23. Of these 34060 remained after the elimination of duplicates and erroneous applications. 1157 applications were eliminated as duplicates. 8578 applications (19.6%) were eliminated because of application errors, but 1600 of these where corrected and sent in again in time to participate in the drawing of lots.

The messages received came every day throughout the transition period, but there was a significant increase at the beginning and end of the period. The figure below shows the reception of messages at various times. The date’s position indicates the start of a new date (at midnight).

Reception of Messages from February 19 through February 23, 2001
Figure 2: Reception of Messages from February 19 through February 23, 2001

Despite the number of applications (43795), competition for a domain name occurred rather infrequently. 21697 domain names were applied for in this period, 18034 of which had only one applicant. A detailed description of the transition method and more statistics can be found in the chapters 3 and 4 in the evaluation report.

Evaluation of the Transition Process

The conclusion from the evaluation is given below. For more details see chapter 5 in the evaluation report.

The draw mechanism used during the transition enabled registrars to correct erroneous applications, proved to be a sturdy system able to handle technical problems at the registrars’ and at Norid, and allowed for a fair and unbiased allocation in those cases where several applicants requested the same name. The actual period of transition lasted longer than what would have been the case with a “first come, first served” system, but was nevertheless fairly short. All things considered, PT and Norid conclude that a draw is a better method than “first come, first served” in a situation where so many names have to be allocated at once.

Dissemination of information in connection with the transition to a new policy was extensive. A lot of information had to reach a very heterogeneous target group. Moreover, it was important to make the entire process as transparent as possible.

The experience from the transition shows that information about the applicant’s obligations provided when registering a domain name does not always remain within the organization once registration is completed.  The extent of this problem was underestimated during the transition to a new policy. An evaluation of possible solutions to the problem will be initiated soon. However, when distributing information in the future, one ought to take into consideration that Norid and PT in this situation overestimated the average user’s ability/willingness to seek information on his or her own, even when easily accessible.

All in all, it nevertheless appears that the dissemination of information during the transition was generally successful in terms of getting important information out to the various target groups. 

In comparison with corresponding liberalizations in other countries, we are satisfied with the technical implementation of the transition. Irregular situations that occurred were not critical, and were handled in a satisfactory manner. The application processing time during the transition was short (maximum 8 business days) compared to what was the case during equivalent liberalizations in other countries (where processing time during the transition peaked at 1-2 months). The allocation of domain names was carried out in accordance with previously published guidelines and in a fair and unbiased manner.

The number of appeals to NOK (Norid’s appellate body) was very low when compared to the number of applications processed. In total, Norid has received 2 appeals against its application processing during the transition. This constitutes 0.005% of the 43795 domain applications processed and 0.02% of the 8578 rejections. In addition, Norid has received 6 complaints regarding conflicts between a domain name holder and a third party whose rights may have been violated. This constitutes 0.01% of the 43795 domain applications processed.

Evaluation of the domain name policy

The main paragraphs from the evaluation is given below. Hovedpunktene fra evalueringen er gjengitt nedenfor. For more details see chapter 6 in the evaluation report.

At present, current and future consequences of the new domain name policy cannot be fully evaluated, as some effects will only be visible over time.  Even though it is too early to give a final evaluation, we would like to comment on the signs that have appeared so far.

Number of Domain Names

The number of applications during the transition was high in comparison to what was usual under the previous name policy, with only one domain name per applicant. The 18827 domain names registered in February represent a sharp increase compared to the earlier average of 2000-2500 domain name registrations per month.  In March, Norid has generally received some 1000 domain applications per day. In total, 18080 domain names were registered in March. Even though this number is expected to drop, it will probably level out at a higher level than under the old name policy. The sharp increase in registrations clearly indicates that there was a real need for more than one name per applicant, and that the choice to raise this limit from 1 to 15 was in keeping with the best interests of the Internet community.

As the registration situation stabilizes and the organizations decide how many domain names they want, the current cap at 15 domain names may be reevaluated. Figure 3 gives an overview of organizations according to their number of domain names registered directly under the .no domain. This chart is based on data gathered on May 7, 2001. The organizations that have registered a single domain name clearly remain the largest section, but this may change over time.

Number of domain names registered directly under .no per organization
Figure 3: Number of domain names registered directly under.no per organization

Documentation of Association

For quite some time, Norid has been aware of applicants’ desire to register a domain name without having to document their association with it. This applied in particular to new concepts/products that were still under development, in which case the developer would be unable to document being publicly known under this name. Such situations no longer pose a problem under the new name policy. Moreover, a policy not requiring documentation was chosen to prevent a bureaucratic, time-consuming and expensive procedure. Feedback received by Norid indicates that price and processing time remain important market factors, and prioritizing low prices and short processing times thus proved to be beneficial.

Conflict Level

So far, there are no signs indicating that the new name policy has unleashed a tide of conflicts. However, it is important to bear in mind that any conclusions regarding the conflict level would be premature at this point.

Inquiries/complaints regarding conflicts between a domain name holder and a third party whose rights may have been violated per April 20:

  • NOK has received 6
  • Norid has received 5
  • PT has received 3

This means that a total of 0.07% of the registrations completed during the transition have led to a conflict.

In some of these conflicts, both parties are already aware of Norid’s role, and only approach Norid or PT to announce the conflict. Since Norid does not take part in conflicts regarding the right to a domain name, there may exist a number of conflicts of which Norid is unaware, e.g. cases whose final outcome is a settlement or court ruling in favor of the current holder. To determine the total number of conflicts, additional methods must be used to count the cases about which Norid is not notified. However, it seems a reasonable assumption that a high level of conflicts would have been reflected in the number of inquiries to Norid or PT, if nothing else as expressions of discontent with the choice of domain name policy.

Click here to view the domain name policy active before this change
Last updated 2015 or before