Post- og teletilsynet UNINETT
Liberalization of the domain name policy – Evaluation Report

1. Contents

  1. Contents

  2. Background of the new domain name policy

  3. Description of the transition to a new policy
    3.1 Transition Process
    3.2 Appellate Procedure during the transition period

  4. Statistics
    4.1 Distribution of Messages
    4.2 Domain Applications

  5. Evaluation of the Transition Process
    5.1 Choice of Model
    5.2 Dissemination of Information
    5.3 Technical Implementation
    5.4 Conclusion

  6. Evaluation of the domain name policy
    6.1 Number of Domain Names
    6.2 Documentation of Association
    6.3 Processing of General Names
    6.4 Conflict Level

2. Background of the new 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.

The new proposal was triggered by signals from Norpol (the policy council of Norid) that the domain name policy then in force no longer covered the needs of the community it was meant to serve.

The proposed domain name policy was built upon the assumption that the market wished for more freedom of choice when registering a domain name than was possible under the then current policy and that the market were willing to accept a somewhat higher degree of pirating activities to achieve this. In order to fulfill this wish, Norid suggested increasing the number of domain names that may be registered by a single applicant, as well as dropping the documentation requirement regarding association with the desired name. The proposal entailed that the applicant would remain responsible that the registration of domain names does not violate Norwegian law or the rights of a third party to the name requested by the applicant, and would have to sign a personal statement of compliance therewith.

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  hrapport.html

In February 2000, the Feedback Report and a revised proposal for a new name policy were submitted to The Norwegian Post and Telecommunications Authority (PT) for their comments. In October 2000, PT reviewed the proposal and forwarded it to the Norwegian Ministry of Transport and Communications along with its own recommendation.

In a letter to the Norwegian Parliament on December 8, 2000, Minister of Transport and Communication Terje Moe Gustavsen gave the go-ahead to implement the liberalization of the name policy. The final wording of this policy, as well as the details concerning the transition period, were determined by the Norwegian Ministry of Transport and Communication in collaboration with PT and Norid.

Additional Information

3. Description of the transition to a new policy

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

3.1 Transition Process

On February 14 2001, at 10 a.m., Norid closed its admission of applications.  Applications received before closing were processed according to the rules in force prior to the change. All domain applications were processed by February 16, with the exception of some applications whose name servers were unreachable. In order to make sure this was not due to transient errors in Norid’s networks, these were tested several times. Applications where repeated tests failed to obtain contact with the name servers were denied on Sunday, February 18, due to non-fulfillment of technical application requirements.

From 10 a.m. on February 19 to 4 p.m. on February 23, Norid accepted applications under the new name policy. All received applications were assigned a ticket number upon entering N’s application processing system. A receipt with the ticket number and the result of a syntax check was sent to the registrar. Once the initial influx had subsided, the applications were consecutively given a preliminary processing. If the domain application passed this round, a receipt thereof was sent to the registrar, and the application was filed. If the application was found to be incorrect, it was rejected and a list of the reasons for this decision was sent to the registrar. The processing included the following tests:

  • Check of application syntax (correct number of digits in postal code, etc.)
  • Check that the legal contact is associated with the applicant organization
  • Check that the domain name is not registered
  • Check of domain name syntax (cf. name policy 3.1, 3.2. and 3.3)
  • Check that the domain name is not prohibited/reserved
  • Check of all name servers listed in application (cf. Appendix F)
  • Check of organization number of the applicant organization referred to in the application
  • Check organization type of the applicant organization referred to in the application Appendix E)

During this period, updates of database information were also processed, as well as registration of new information. During the afternoon of February 23, the preliminary processing of domain applications was halted to free up all system resources for reception of new applications until closing. The clock on the computer running the application processing system is synchronized with several others very reliable time sources by means of NTP, and the closing was carried out as planned at 4:00 p.m.

The processing of the remaining applications was completed, with the exception of some applications whose name servers were unreachable. In order to make sure this was not due to transient errors in Norid’s network, these were tested several times. Applications where repeated tests failed to obtain contact with the name servers were denied on Sunday, February 25, due to non-fulfillment of technical application requirements. Duplicate applications where a single organization had repeatedly requested the same domain name were removed, and a list of all remaining ticket numbers associated with domain names was submitted to PT.

On February 26, PT conducted a drawing of lots that assigned an arbitrary order to applications for a single domain name. This draw determined the order in which Norid would process the applications received in the period from February 19 through February 23. For each domain name, the first valid application according to the name policy was approved. All received applications were processed before the end of March 1.

At 10 a.m. on February 28, normal admission of applications under the new name policy was opened. The applications were received and filed and subsequently processed in the order in which they were received. Norid processed the initial influx of applications during the first days following the opening, and was down to a processing time of one business day as of March 5.

Figure 1: Overview of the transition
Overview of the transition

3.2 Appellate Procedure during the transition period

Appeals regarding rejected applications under the old name policy had to be received by Norid by February 21. Announcement thereof had been made by means of a public statement and a press release, as well as via e-mail to all registrars, to allow them to inform their clients. Moreover, all denied applications from January 22 through February 18 were sent out with an amended appeals text stating that the final deadline for appeals was February 21.

To ensure that all appeals were processed prior to the drawing of lots, Norid had requested that all NOK members be on readiness on February 22 and 23. Appeals received prior to February 21 were processed according to the old name policy, i.e. the name policy in effect when the application was denied. All appeals received under this policy were processed before the end of February 24. Most were processed on February 23, and Norid sent out letters stating the appellate body’s decision as soon as it was known. On February 25, the cases which had been granted or where a reopening had been requested were processed.

4. Statistics

There was a large influx of messages during the transition period; a total of 53594 messages were received by Norid from February 19 through February 23. This was as expected in comparison to what other countries (such as Denmark) experienced during a similar liberalization. 

4.1 Distribution of Messages

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


The received messages were principally domain applications, but some updates and registrations of information were also received. The table shows the number of messages of each type received in this period.

Messages received in the transition period
Message Type Number
Domain Application 43795
Registration of Organization 3862
Registration of Contact Person 3837
Update of Information 1918
Registration of Name Servers 84
Check of Application Status 38
Transfer of Domain 28
Removal of Domain 7
Miscellaneous 25

All messages concerning updates of information and registration of organizational information, personal information, and name servers were processed on an ongoing basis during the entire transition period. In total, there were 9701 such messages, and the processing time was less than one business day.

In connection with the registrars’ preparation of their applications, a larger number of messages regarding updating information, registration of organizational information, personal information, etc., were received prior to the transition period, as well. 1216 such messages were received in the period from February 10 through February 14 and had been processed before the end of February 16.

4.2 Domain Applications

Following the elimination of duplicates and incorrect applications, 34060 out of a total of 43795 applications remained. 1157 applications were eliminated as duplicates, while 8578 applications (19.6%) were eliminated because of application errors.

Despite the number of applications, competition for a domain name occurred rather infrequently. 21697 domain names were applied for in this period, 18034 of which had only one applicant.

The 8578 unsuccessful applications were rejected for the following reasons:

Reason for rejection Number
Name servers not set up correctly 4025
Legal contact without association with the organization 2603
Applicant organization number missing or not valid 2447
The applicant requested an already existing domain name 905
The applicant requested a prohibited domain name 386
The organization was of a kind not entitled to register domain names 310
Incorrect/missing contact information for legal contact 281
Reference to a non-existing object 93
Invalid domain name 85
Name servers did not reply following repeated tests 41
Miscellaneous (closed upon registrar’s request, etc.) 84
Total 11260

The total number of grounds for rejection applied exceeds the total number of denied applications, as some of the applications contained more than one error. The distribution is nevertheless indicative of the most common errors.

The most frequent ground for rejection was non-fulfillment of the technical requirements for registration of a domain name under .no. By itself or combined with other errors, this error occurred in 47% of all rejected applications.

The second most frequent reason for rejection was the failure to list a legal contact with association to the applicant organization pursuant to instructions. This is usually just due to a mistake when filling in the application, not to a lack of association between the legal contact and the organization. In other words, the application was not completed according to the instructions.

The third-most frequent reason for rejection is a missing or invalid organization number for the applicant organization (non-existent in the Norwegian Register of Business Enterprises). Despite a frequent occurrence of this reason for rejection, it applies to relatively few organizations (435 organizations had their application denied on such grounds, which represents 5% of the total of 8143 organizations applying during the transition period). After denial, update messages were sent by registrars on behalf of 189 out of these 435 organizations. 75 of these had their updates confirmed by the applicant organization, and participated in the draw. The primary reason why the remaining 114 organizations missed the draw was that Norid received no confirmation from the legal contact person at the applicant organization until after the closing of the transition period. A very small number is confirmed without a new application submitted by the registrar.

In total, 1600 of the 8578 applications that were initially rejected had their error(s) corrected prior to the closing of the transition period, and a new corrected version was submitted for participation in the draw.

5. Evaluation of the Transition Process

5.1 Choice of Model

Various models for the transition to a new policy were evaluated, and a draw-based mechanism was finally selected. The drawing of lots is a method PT has successfully used in other allocation contexts, such as the allocation of five-digit phone numbers and permanent prefixes. The applicants seem to perceive a drawing of lots as a fair mechanism for the allocation of such limited resources, as everybody has an equal chance to win. The mechanism has numerous technical and practical advantages.

5.1.1 Advantages

The transition period granted Norid the time to check the application for formal errors and notify the registrar that the application is rejected, so that the registrar might submit a corrected application prior to the start of the draw. Judging from the statistical material, this seems to have worked according to plan. A total of 1,600 of the 8,578 applications that were initially rejected were corrected and re-submitted by the deadline on February 23. This number is nevertheless lower than expected, which may indicate that several registrars were struggling to correct unsuccessful applications while also handling new requests during the transition itself. With a longer transition period, the number of new requests would gradually shrink, allowing the registrars to free up resources to follow up on applications containing errors. Unfortunately, this period would probably need to be relatively long in order to produce a significantly lower number of requests. This would be a significant disadvantage to applicants requesting a unique domain name for which there were no other applicants. Since applications for unique domain names constituted more than 50% of the applications participating in the draw, this is a significant group. All things considered, NORID and PT hence find the choice of a transition period of five days to be a correct compromise.

The elimination of duplicate applications entails that an applicant cannot improve his or her chances by submitting several applications for the same name. Hence, there will be nothing to gain by approaching several registrars at once, thereby occupying registrar resources with duplicate applications. This also seems to have worked according to plan. Only 3% of the correct applications had to be eliminated as duplicates. Hence, the registrars’ capacity was equally distributed among the various applicants, rather than some applicants submitting large numbers of applications requiring a lot of capacity and thus preventing others from applying. Seen in the context of some registrars’ capacity problems (cf. above), this proved to be a correct procedure.

The time of submission of the application is insignificant, as long as it is within the transition period. Hence, minor technical problems occurring at the registrar or at Norid at any given time do not place the applicant in a critical situation. Nor will there be any difference between registrars who handle their own e-mail service and those who outsource this service to another Internet provider.

The steady trickle of applications placed a uniform strain on the system, with the exception of the influx at the end of the period (see Figure 2 under Statistics). Contrary to what has been the case in other countries, the processing system did not go down due to the high demand. Moreover, the long period of time meant that registrars who had temporary problems with their own systems could resubmit their applications. Early Thursday morning, Norid experienced an unannounced interruption of the power supply to its computers which would have been critical under a “first come, first served” transition, but which didn’t have any major effect on the system of drawing lots.

5.1.2 Disadvantages

The disadvantage of the draw system is that its implementation required more time than a “first come, first served” transition. This primarily caused trouble for applicants who under regular circumstances would have been unaffected by the change, but nevertheless had to wait due to the transition period. Norid has therefore previously chosen to carry out minor changes without using the draw mechanism. However, the new name policy has wide-ranging consequences, and only a minority of applicants had to wait for a change that did not affect them. Moreover, the waiting period was in reality limited to two business weeks (Norid closed on February 14 and reopened on February 28).

5.1.3 Conclusion

All things considered and having evaluated the advantages and disadvantages of the method, PT and Norid find that a draw is a better method than “first come, first served” in a situation where so many names are to be allocated at once.

5.2 Dissemination of Information

Once the proposal for a new name policy had been approved by the Norwegian Minister of Transport and Communication Terje Moe Gustavsen in December, Norid and PT published it on their Web sites along with information on the transition mechanism chosen.

The new name policy was published on Norid’s Web site on January 23. The most important items related to the transition were listed in a press release that same day with reference to the name policy. Information was also posted on PT’s Web site with a link to Norid for details. The media coverage in connection with the press release was relatively extensive. Moreover, the same information was published in an announcement in the major Norwegian newspapers on January 24 and February 7 with a reference to the Web sites.

To ensure that the registrars were prepared, information on details of the transition was sent directly to all registrars by e-mail. The first messages were sent on December 7, 2000, with reminders on January 25 and February 8. In the period from February 19 through February 23, Norid regularly e-mailed all registrars information on the number of applications received, processing times, and any irregularities.

On February 26, PT held a press conference where the draw was undertaken in public. The Norwegian Minister of Transport and Communication participated, and he was the one who performed the actual drawing og lots. Nine journalists showed up at the press conference, and the subsequent media coverage was good. Information on the draw algorithm and application statistics were distributed to the press. Moreover, the top ten domain names were announced, as well as the organizations that had received them. Information about the drawing of lots, an overview of the number of applicants and the winners of the most popular names were also posted on PT’s Web site. This prompted some journalists to contact PT after the press conference.

An overview of the information dissemination is provided below:

Date Information Registrars General Public
December 7, 2000 Choice of draw model and application submission procedure E-mail and Web sites  
December 12, 2000 New name policy model approved. Final wording of name policy later approved E-mail and Web sites Web sites
January 23, 2001 New name policy and detailed transition procedure E-mail and Web sites Press release and Web sites
January 24, 2001 New name policy and detailed transition procedure   Announcement in major newspapers
January 25, 2001 Choice of draw model and application submission procedure (repetition) E-mail (with reference to existing information on Web sites)  
February 7, 2001 New name policy and detailed transition procedure (repetition)   Announcement in major newspapers
February 8, 2001 Choice of draw model and application submission procedure (repetition) E-mail (with reference to existing information on Web sites)  
February 19-24, 2001 Status (number of applications received, number of applications processed, etc.) E-mail  
February 26, 2001 Drawing of lots Web sites Press conference and Web sites
February 28, 2001 Status prior to opening under new name policy E-mail  
March 5, 2001 Status following transition to new name policy Web sites Web sites

5.2.1 Information on Application Requirements

Information to Registrars

Once the draw mechanism had been reviewed and recommended by PT in a letter addressed to the Norwegian Ministry of Transport and Communication, Norid e-mailed information on the consequences of such a transition to all its registrars on December 7. Information was provided on how to complete the application during the transition. In cases where the application referred to previously registered information, this information had to be updated prior to submission.  The purpose was to allow the registrars to contact the applicants and perform the necessary updates for all applications the registrar already had in store awaiting the transition. A reminder thereof was sent out to all registrars on January 25 and February 8 along with a request to prepare the applications prior to February 19.

Based on several registrars’ feedback to Norid, we may conclude that the registrars were well informed about the routines pertaining to the transition.

Information to the General Public

The information to the public consisted of the Web site reference in the announcement, as well as the Web pages related to the transition. It was presumed that the registrars would prepare their applications in advance, so that only a minor number of updates would have to be done during the actual period of February 19-23.

In order to support applicants who approached the registrar in the period February 14-23, Norid increased its staff to handle all the updates. This proved to be successful, as the 1918 update messages submitted during the period were each processed in less than a business day. Messages received in the morning of February 23 were processed by 1:00 p.m. on that same day, which allowed these applicants to participate in the draw.

Some applications were nevertheless rejected because the application referred to outdated and/or incorrect information. In particular, this applied to those 5% of the participating organizations with an invalid or missing organization number. Update messages were submitted on behalf of 43% (189) of these organizations. Updating an organization with an organization number identifies the holder of domains that are already registered. For security reasons, Norid therefore had to request confirmation from the legal contact of the holder organization prior to implementing such changes.  Only approximately 40% (75) of the legal contacts responded to this request prior to the closing of the draw. The text of the inquiry sent to the legal contact explains that the organization cannot register any more domain names before receipt of confirmation, but could possibly have further emphasized the importance of a prompt reply.

Both the previous and the new name policy require that the applicant update the information related to a domain. This includes organization number and contact information. Some inquiries received by Norid indicate that many domain holders are unaware of this fact.

The decision that the applicant/domain name holder is personally responsible for updating information related to the domain at all times was made based on the fact that Norid’s conditions (as a small organization with low prices and short processing time) do not permit actively contacting the holders of all domains registered under .no to ask for any changes. The final responsibility must therefore necessarily reside with the applicant for/holder of the domain, unless market players desire an expansion of Norid that would entail a more extensive bureaucracy, higher prices, and longer processing times.  The feedback provided in response to Norid’s invitation for comments prior to the liberalization clearly indicates that this is not the case. Nor would such repeated inquiries secure the accuracy of the database at all times, as Norid would not know when the information related to a domain is outdated (e.g. when somebody leaves an organization).

On this basis, we conclude that Norid has fulfilled all requirements to which the registry is subject under the name policy. Moreover, Norid has allocated additional resources to support the applicants who did not have updated information relating to their domains. However, we accept the criticism that Norid and PT overestimated the extent to which an organization holding a domain name is aware of its obligations to maintain this name. In terms of numbers, this affected only few organizations (5% of the participants), but as it affects the organizations by surprise, it is perceived as frustrating. Given the number of domain name holders who were unaware of their obligations with regard to their domain name, a separate announcement geared specifically towards these should have been made prior to the draw.

Even though the final responsibility must necessarily reside with the applicant for/holder of the domain, it is in the interest of the general public that the database of .no domains is as up to date as possible. In the future, NORID will look into the possibility of using various methods to remind applicants of their obligation to update.

Some possible methods:

  • expanded invoice text upon annual billing
  • instructions for updating sent to applicant upon registration of the domain
  • annual announcements in various newspapers

However, the costs of the various options must be assessed against NORID’s desire to maintain the lowest possible annual and registration fees.

5.2.2 Information on Responsibility Regarding Third Party Rights

The press release and the announcements emphasized that the applicant is responsible for ensuring that the registration of a domain name does not violate the rights of any third party or Norwegian law. Emphasis was also placed on the fact that this is the sole responsibility of the holder, and that Norid cannot undertake such investigations. Nor is it Norid’s responsibility to determine in retrospect who is “most entitled” to a given domain name.

This information was mainly geared toward the applicants/holders, but was also sent to the registrars. Many of the registrars have described the problem in their own information to their clients, as well as announcing it in the media.

The applications from the transition phase show that the domain names desired by most applicants were mainly general words and expressions, not company names and brand names. The domain names for which there was competition were also clearly a minority. As many as 84% of the domain names applied for in this period had just one applicant.

This may indicate that the information regarding the applicant’s responsibility has reached the applicants, making them aware of the consequences of infringing on other people’s rights. Norid and PT assume that the personal statement has contributed significantly to this awareness. Based on the post-facto inquiries Norid received concerning conflicts about the rights to domain names, it appears that the information about Norid’s role in such conflicts has also generally reached its target group.

We conclude that Norid and PT have been successful in disseminating information regarding responsibility for third party rights.  Moreover, several registrars have made a significant contribution in passing this information on to applicants.

5.2.3 Information on Transition Criteria 

Through publication on webpages in December, as well as a press release and announcements in January, the public was informed that a draw mechanism had been chosen for the transition to the new policy. In addition, information on the drawing of lots was posted on Norid’s and PT’s web sites. The information on the web in December explained the rationale for this choice, while the press release and the announcements in January provided practical details for the transition period as well as applicable deadlines.

In the transition period, the chain of events was covered by various publications. One newspaper supplied an incorrect closing time for the reception of applications.  Norid informed the registrars directly via e-mail that the correct closing time remained the same as stated in the announcement. Moreover, Norid posted a correction on its website referring to the erroneous newspaper article and providing correct information. Given that the registrars had been notified that the closing time remained as agreed upon, Norid assumes that the article did not cause any major harm.

In retrospect, there have been few questions why the draw model was chosen. Considering that this is a relatively special model that has not been used in this context before, we view this as a sign that the information on the rationale behind the choice reached its target. Our conclusion is therefore that Norid’s and PT’s dissemination of information was successful, and that the information on the draw and its criteria reached its targets.

5.2.4 Continuous Status Information to the Registrars

In the period from February 19 through February 23, Norid regularly e-mailed all registrars information on the number of applications received, processing times, and any irregularities. This was very important under the few irregular conditions that occurred (inaccuracies in a newspaper article, power failure), and also contributed to providing the registrars with information on what messages they might expect to receive from the application processing system, as well as the status of Norid’s processing of the various messages. Norid considers this information channel to be crucial when implementing such an extensive transition.

5.2.5 Conclusion

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

The experience gained from this 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.  Hence, the task is considered successfully completed.

5.3 Technical Implementation

5.3.1 Reception of Applications and Processing

During the period from February 19 through February 23, as well as at the opening of the regular reception of applications on February 28, a major strain was placed on the application processing and application reception systems.  During the period from February 19 through February 23, Norid received a total of 53594 messages, while 7000 messages poured in on February 28. However, the choice of the draw model distributed the pressure more evenly throughout the period, even though it peaked at opening and closing times.

The result of the high volumes at these times was that it took longer than normal to run the syntax check so that receipts could be sent out. This did not interfere with the reception of applications, as the system handled all received data without problems. In periods when the syntax check was delayed, the registrars were informed of this by e-mail.

The system had been pretested for heavy volumes, and beyond the delays affecting syntax checks, no problems were observed due to the high volume. As opposed to what happened in other countries during a corresponding liberalization, the application processing and e-mail systems did not go down due to the high volume.

Norid and PT are satisfied with the technical implementation of the reception of applications.

The preliminary processing of the 43795 domain name applications was carried out continuously from when the initial influx eased until Saturday, February 24. The exception was applications for which contact with the name servers could not be established. In order to make sure this was not due to transient errors in Norid’s networks, these were tested several times. As repeated tests failed to establish contact with the name servers, rejections were sent out on Sunday, February 25. The processing of applications was hence completed according to plan, allowing the draw to take place on February 26.

The draw was completed on February 26 as scheduled, but the processing of these applications took a day and a half more than planned. The reception of applications under the new name policy was nevertheless opened on February 28 according to schedule. These applications were received and saved, and subsequently processed in the order in which they were received. On March 1, all applications from the draw were processed. As of March 5, Norid had processed the initial accumulation of 10696 applications received as of February 28, and processing time was down to less than one business day.

5.3.2 Implementation of Draw

PT received the basis for the draw on February 25 in the form of an encrypted file containing domain names and Norid ticket numbers.  The applicants’ identity was unknown to PT.

The actual drawing of lots was successfully competed on February 26. It was carried out by means of the software Microsoft Excel 97, which contains a feature for random attribution of numbers.  A new results file containing domain names, Norid ticket numbers and a random number was generated. This file determined the order of processing at Norid. Following the draw, the results file was transferred to Norid. Encryption was used during the transfer.

The basis for the draw and the final results are kept on file at PT (outside the IT department) and at Norid, allowing future verification that the drawing of lots was carried out correctly. According to an internal PT review, two tests completed prior to the draw showed that the attribution of random numbers was indeed random.  The transfer of files to and from PT was also tested.

5.3.3 Handling of Irregular Situations

During the transition to a new name policy, a minor irregularity occurred.

At 03:00 a.m. on Thursday, February 22, there was an unannounced power failure in the Norid office in Oslo where the computer receiving applications was located. The system was therefore down from 3:00 to 8:00 a.m. on Thursday, February 22. Norid immediately notified the registrars and assessed the extent of the damage in consultation with the Norwegian Ministry for Transport and Communication. As the system was only down for a short while during the 5-day application reception period and because time of reception has no significance when using the draw model, the conclusion was that the power failure was insignificant and that the published deadlines should remain effective.

Norid and PT find that this irregularity was handled in a satisfactory manner.

5.3.4 Conclusion

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.

5.4 Conclusion – Evaluation of Transition Process

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.

6. Evaluation of the domain name policy

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.

6.1 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

6.2 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.

6.3 Processing of General Names

As an introduction to the new policy, registration of general names was permitted in May 2000. Before this change was implemented, only organizations that could prove that they represented the concept in question in Norway were allowed to register a general domain name. One example thereof would be forsikring.no [insurance.no], registered by the Norwegian Insurance Association.

The application of the regulations and the practice in the field required extensive manual evaluation, and it often proved difficult to assess what constituted a general concept and which organizations should be allowed to register such names. The assessments were logged to secure a consistent practice in this field, but nevertheless remained among the most controversial decisions made by Norid. Based on the number of appeals pertaining to this rule, it was clear that many applicants no longer found this part of the policy reasonable.

Hence, Norid’s initiative to abolish the rules prohibiting registration of general names and expressions was made independent of the liberalization, as it would have been difficult to continue enforcing a policy contrary to so many applicants’ wishes. PT agreed to this, considering that the time aspect was critical and that the rest of the liberalization process would take long.

A possible alternative would have been reserving certain names/expressions for given organizations prior to the change in regulations. This would have been very hard to accomplish in the short period then at disposal. Moreover, it would have been in violation of the equal treatment requirement of the name policy. At the time, PT decided that the principle of equal treatment should take precedence over the interests of individual organizations, both public and private.  Norpol was also consulted, and their recommendation corresponded with PT’s view. Hence, this alternative was not chosen.

Another alternative would have been to make a more extensive list of prohibitions, where a great number of names were reserved for future use, prior to changing the rules. Such a list could never be exhaustive, especially since a number of central organizations had already had their names registered. On the other hand, certain names would still be available if a need for a generic domain/official central domain were to arise in the future. However, this alternative was also very difficult to implement in the time available before the change in the regulations.

Since the time aspect was so critical in terms of Norid’s ability to keep enforcing the regulations correctly, Norid and PT view the solution chosen (with a change in the regulations in May) as a necessary move, despite the fact that another solution might have been selected under less time pressure.

6.4 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