States to establish Sydney, Melbourne web domains

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States to establish Sydney, Melbourne web domains

Registry operator sought for new top-level domains.

The Victorian and NSW Governments are seeking a domain registry operator for .sydney, .melbourne and .victoria top-level domains.

A joint request for proposal was issued this week, four months after international domain name regulator ICANN agreed to introduce new generic top-level domains (gTLD).

The new regime will allow web addresses to end in gTLDs like .music, .food, .sydney, .canon or .hitachi, instead of the traditional .com, .net and .org.

ICANN will accept ‘Round 1’ applications for new gTLDs from next January to April, charging a fee of $US185,000 ($180,000) for each gTLD application.

The NSW Department of Finance, acting on behalf of both NSW and Victoria, planned to accept tender responses until 15 November, after which it would determine a timeframe, more detailed strategy and costs.

NSW and Victoria expected to enter into separate contracts with the chosen registry operator, although the department reserved the right to “decline all responses and terminate the process”.

Tender documents called for a vendor that would apply to ICANN, establish, maintain and market the gTLDs, reserving certain second-level domains for public bodies and agencies at no charge.

Should ICANN approve the domains, the states hoped to come to a five-year revenue-sharing arrangement with the vendor, which would commercially operate the gTLDs on a self-funded basis.

Under that arrangement, the state governments planned to collect a minimum sum each year as well at least 20 percent of revenue exceeding $500,000 that the operator earned from the gTLDs.

“The state governments of NSW and Victoria are seeking to register the .sydney, .melbourne and .victoria strings and potentially .NSW ... to ensure this key digital asset is secured for use by the respective Government agencies and their communities,” the documents stated.

“NSW and Victoria consider that there are benefits to the acquisition of these TLDs.

“Those benefits include (but are not limited to): the development of a unique domain name address for local businesses and citizens; more obvious branding and easier to recall domain name addresses; possibilities for innovation in the various domain name addresses.”

When ICANN approved the gTLD program in June, it expected to establish “hundreds” of top-level domains in the first round of the program alone.

Service provider Melbourne IT reported receiving 17 registrations and 270 expressions of interest for ‘.brand’ domains when it released its half-year results in August.

Chief executive officer and managing director Theo Hnarakis expected the cost of operating gTLDs to be between $50,000 and $250,000 a year, depending on traffic expectations and the number of second-level domains.

He told analysts and media in August that each gTLD contract could be worth between $45,000 and $75,000.

Hnarakis said today that it was “only fitting” that Sydney and Melbourne have their own top-level domains, with London, New York and Berlin having announced their intentions to do so as well.

“The governments will no doubt want to make good use of these domains with memorable names for marketing campaigns like,” he said.

“The names also likely offer businesses in those cities an opportunity to obtain a domain name that identifies them as a local business ... as a consumer you instantly know you’ve found a business that’s likely to be able to help.”

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