As .NZ Surges, There’s Been A Modest Surge In Coronavirus-Related Domain Registrations

A couple of reports from the people behind .nz have shown the impact of COVID-19 (coronavirus) on New Zealanders and their internet use in recent months. Statistics for .nz shows increased DNS activity, including a surge in registrations that has taken registrations to close to 715,000.

The first was a report from InternetNZ that revealed New Zealanders are using .nz domain names more than ever before during the past weeks of level 4 lockdown where people were in effect confined to their homes.

Domain Name System (DNS) activity, which measures requests for .nz domain names, saw consistent increases of queries coming from New Zealand, week on week of 5 to 7% since the lockdown started. This activity has also included increased registration activity, with registrations growing from 708,507 at the end of March, according to InternetNZ statistics, to 714,660 today. This is the highest number of registrations for New Zealand’s country code top-level domain (ccTLD) since 2018.

But only a small number of these, around 400, have terms related to COVID-19 or coronavirus in them. To date, the Domain Name Commission notes in their April 2020 newsletter 248 of these domain names have been validated, with 88 domain names being suspended for registrants not validating their registration details. The DNC notes they have not had to use the exceptional emergency power process to suspend a COVID-19 domain name which they attribute to how well their data validation process is working to suspend relevant domain names.

There’s a growing amount of evidence, some anecdotal, some not, that the increase in domain name registrations can be attributed to “growth is being driven mainly by business registrations, particularly start-ups” as the Dutch ccTLD manager, SIDN, reported from their own research in April.

In a questionnaire-based survey conducted for SIDN, they found “all the start-ups who responded said that they had registered their domain names for use in online business activities. It’s the first time that no survey respondents have said they were planning offline business start-ups. That may well reflect the circumstances surrounding the current pandemic.”

Across the Tasman, InternetNZ’s antipodean cousins at auDA report in their April 2020 registry report, published on the auDA website last week, that 48,754 new .au domain names were created – “the biggest month for new domain name creations in some time.” There were 44,776 .au domain names created in March 2020 and 39,340 in April 2019.

auDA logo

However the total number of domains in Australia’s ccTLD actually fell slightly compared to where it was at the same time last year (3,187,412) and last month (3,169,412). At the end of April 2020 there were 3,168,883 .au domain names.

According to the InternetNZ report released at the end of April, some sites saw dramatic increases, such as government domain names (govt.nz), which have seen a 40% increase in traffic compared to before the nationwide lockdown. Covid19.govt.nz was added to the register around 16 March. Spikes in traffic to this site align with the Government’s lunchtime press conferences.

InternetNZ Chief Executive, Jordan Carter, says it’s a fantastic example of using a website as a hub of useful information.

“Many Kiwis are relying on the site for up-to-date, relevant information about COVID-19. Sharing of information is crucial, especially during a crisis situation, and a website is an easy way to ensure the same information reaches many New Zealanders at once.”

InternetNZ is also seeing a spike in .nz domain name registrations as more businesses around New Zealand make a move online.

“New Zealanders were using the Internet more than ever during alert level 4 and many businesses are thinking about how they can be online during level 3”, says Carter. “With Kiwi consumers looking to support local businesses, it’s a good time to explore how you can get online and show your local presence with a .nz domain name.” InternetNZ data has shown the most popular words in recent domain name registrations include online, kiwi and shop.

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