Second level .au domain names – such as forexample.au – will soon be available in the .au country code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) after the auDA board adopted the proposed Implementation Rules for the .au Namespace at their meeting on 20 May 2019.
Second level names will be a new option for .au registrants, complementing registration at the third level of namespace (eg.forexample.com.au) such as .com.au, .net.au, .org.au, id.au and .asn.au.
It is anticipated second level .au licences will be available for registration in Q4 2019.
Under the implementation rules existing registrants of .au licences will be able to apply for priority status to register the exact match of their existing third level .au licence at the second level. E.g. The registrant of forexample.com.au will be able to apply for priority to register forexample.au.
New licensing rules for .au domain names in the .au ccTLD
A new set of licensing rules will also be introduced for domain names within the .au ccTLD, including within the .au, .com.au, .net.au, .org.au, .asn.au, .id.au, and the state and territory namespaces.
The licensing rules are the terms and conditions registrants must meet when applying for a .au domain name licence.
While the principles of the rules haven’t changed significantly, the new licensing rules are a consolidation of numerous separate policies which apply to .au domain name registrants now.
It is anticipated that the new licensing rules will come into effect in Q4 2019.
The approval of the implementation rules follows more than four years of policy consultation on second level registrations.
In February 2015, auDA established the 2015 Names Policy Panel to review the allocation and use of domain names in the .au domain space. As a result of public consultations held throughout 2015, the panel recommended that .au should be opened up to registrations at the second level of .au (forexample.au).
An independent market research survey with more than 3,000 respondents in 2016 revealed more than two-thirds would register a .au domain if setting up a new website.
The auDA Board approved the panel’s recommendation to introduce second level registrations in April 2016, and requested that the auDA staff prepare an implementation plan.
auDA commissioned Deloitte Access Economics to conduct an economic analysis of the .au domain range. The report found the .au domain has created more than 4,500 full-time jobs and contributed more than $677m to the economy. Deloitte noted that while direct registration as a policy is broadly accepted, consultations suggest that the specifics of its implementation are causes of contention. They noted that extensive public consultation will be required to identify an implementation policy that will be appropriate for the Australian context. Deloitte also recommended a further cost-benefit analysis be conducted.
In 2017 the Board convened the 2017 Policy Review Panel (PRP) to make recommendations on:
- the implementation rules for second level domain names
- reform of all existing auDA policies
The PRP worked to gather feedback on the development of the policies from a wide range of stakeholders via a series of public forums, focus groups, market research and online consultation activities.
The PRP commissioned ACIL Allen Consulting to complete a cost-benefit analysis as recommended in the Deloitte report and commissioned OmniPoll to conduct a Consumer Sentiment Survey.
The PRP delivered its final recommendations to the auDA Board in April 2019.
The documents submitted to the auDA board in April 2019 can be found here:
- PRP Final Report: Recommendations to the auDA Board: Reform of Existing Policies & Implementation of Direct Registration
- Report to the Policy Review Panel: Implementation of Direct Registration and Reform of Existing Policies: Outcomes of Consultative Activity and Focus Groups
- Consumer Perceptions of Domain Name Extensions (research conducted by Omnipoll)
- Direct Registration in Australia: A Cost-Benefit Analysis (ACIL Allen Consulting)
The auDA Board then conducted a further national public awareness campaign in April 2019 which reached more than 1.5 million people, with a combination of a short video and a dedicated website with further information (shorternames.com.au/), which was also translated into Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Vietnamese and Korean.
1,750 people completed a survey on the website, with 86% supporting the introduction of second level registration.
The full report on this consultative exercise and the associate Board presentation can be found here: