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As auDA’s Annus Horribilis Draws to a Close, Afilias Appointed to Operate .AU Registry

It’s been a bruising year for auDA. One could call it their Annus Horribilis. An unusually high staff and board member turnover, ousting of the Chair following a member revolt and a process for dealing with the registry contract commencing in turmoil, but finally coming to an end with Afilias winning the tender to operate the registry from July 2018.

The auDA announcement today comes from a shortlist of 3 which was whittled down from the original 9 full responses received following the tender announcement, a process overseen by domain name industry veteran Bruce Tonkin, which, prior to his stewardship had the appearance of being a process without direction and in total chaos starting with auDA’s announcement, never clarified, that they intended to build and operate the registry and was being conducted without industry consultation, which they are required to do.

The current registry provider, AusRegistry, now owned by Neustar, has run the registry since late 2002 and overseen growth from around 310,000 to today’s 3.125 million.

With the auDA contract, the number of country code top level domains (ccTLDs) operated by Afilias comes to 10. The .au contract is easily the largest of these, the others being .ag (Antigua and Barbuda), .bz (Belize), .gi (Gibraltar), .in (India), .lc (St. Lucia), .me (Montenegro), .mn (Mongolia), .sc (Seychelles) and .vc (St. Vincent and the Grenadines). Afilias also provides backend registry services for 8 legacy generic top level domains (gTLDs) and 193 new gTLDs, 20 of these which they’re also the registry for.

Established in 2000, Afilias is the world’s second largest domain name registry provider with over 21 million names under management, including .org (10.372 million domain names) and .info (5.917 million).

As part of the requirements for operating the .au registry, Afilias is required to have an Australian office and according to the auDA announcement they “will set up a new Melbourne office with 20 local staff, including seasoned domain name professionals with more than 20 years global experience.”