With the exponential growth of new Top Level Domains (TLDs) being released globally, it’s time for Australians to have access to a wider range of domains that end with au.
Currently there are over 1,000 new TLDs working their way through the convoluted system managed by ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.
Nevertheless, I’m predicting that having a dot-au on the end of your domain is always going to be preferable for Australian businesses who don’t see the need to promote their business beyond Australia. There’s a very good reason for this.
Dot-au adds certainty in an uncertain word.
The body responsible for governing the .au namespace and policies under an industry self-regulatory model is auDA. Then there’s AusRegistry, a private company which looks after all domains that end with au. They have done a brilliant job ensuring that au domains are the first choice for Australian organisations. In fact when compared to other countries, the au TLD has a much higher penetration rate than most.
A key to this success has been in ensuring credibility through strict eligibility requirements. Anybody can register a new .org, for example. But to register a .org.au you need to demonstrate you are a legitimate Australian non-commercial organisation. To register a .com.au or .net.au you have to provide an ABN. The owner of the ABN then becomes the authorised owner of the new domain.
The results of enforcing these rules are really quite profound. It’s not hard to track down the owner of an au website or email address, adding confidence and security to business transactions. It’s also reassuring that you have clear-cut rights if somebody tries to cybersquat your brand by registering an au domain using your trademark-registered business or brand name.
auDA needs to allow more domain options for Australians
Currently businesses in Australia wanting to register an au domain can really only choose between a .com.au or a .net.au (which is considered a poor substitute if you can’t secure the .com.au). But things have changed since 2001 when AusRegistry first established its registry system for au. The internet is now a far bigger place and according to AusRegistry’s own statistics the number of registrations have grown from 0.27 million in 2001 to well over 2.5 million. So why shouldn’t there be a lot more options available under the protective umbrella of .au?
How about new geographic 2LDs for Australia?
Surely it’s time businesses had access to state and even region-based 2LDs.
Most people would be surprised to learn that geographic 2LDs have in fact been released in Australia. These have been released as Community Geographic Domain Names or CGDNs (All these acronyms!) So in South Australia you can find websites online at:
There are only a handful of these websites because they are restricted to not-for-profit community groups and, for the most part, I doubt that they would get much traffic.
But there must be a multitude of local businesses who would welcome the introduction of commercially available localised 2LDs. Surely this would assist consumers in identifying local search results over interstate competitors?
And I’m pretty sure that .barossa.au and .adelaide.au would be very well supported.
And what about new generic 2LDs for Australia?
I would predict that for many Australian companies, having an au on the end of a new generic domain would be preferable. Surely businesses and consumers alike would rapidly respond to .shop.au and prefer .tourism.au or .hotel.au over their international equivalents? Of course there could be many others.
Deliberations by the policy makers so far
Since researching this subject I have learned that auDA have indeed discussed the release of new 2LDs under the .au top level. If you’re really interested you can read a report on their findings here:
To me, the shred of hope we can cling to is on page 18 of the 24-page report:
“Panel members think that the impending introduction of new gTLDs by ICANN may have a significant impact on the .au domain, with the possibility that changes to the global DNS could spark a demand for similar changes in the Australian DNS. In this context, the Panel believes that the two main policy issues that would need to be revisited in future are direct registrations under .au and personal domain names.”