.IN Transition To Neustar Completed Despite Court Action To Prevent

The transition of India’s .in ccTLD to Neustar’s registry platform was completed Friday, 1 March, with the stage set for significant growth as India’s economy grows in coming years, as well as an expansion in the number of internationalised domain names (IDNs) that become available to India’s businesses and people.

The transition happened despite court action in the High Court of New Delhi in India by Afilias where they sought to prevent India’s ccTLD manager, the National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI), awarding the contract to Neustar. Afilias attempted to claim that Neustar didn’t have “the experience and expertise in Indian language domain names and Indian scripts,” a requirement of the tender request.

Afilias claimed Neustar lacked “experience in supporting Hindi or any other Indian language in the marketplace with respect to second-level Hindi, Tamil or other Indian language IDN registrations; and top-level Hindi, Tamil or other Indian language operations.” This was based on Afilias attempting to register domain names in the relevant scripts in other Neustar-run TLDs without success, TLDs that don’t have any such requirements. However in tender documents Neustar had stated their registry services support “over 20 IDN language tables which includes Hindi.” Neustar also claimed they were “one of the first registry service organizations to successfully implement an IDN (IDN Registry Service System) using the IDNA 2008 Protocol.”

In ruling in favour of NIXI awarding the contract to Neustar (final court judgement is available here), the court found that bidders were only required to show “previous expertise in multiple languages, including and peculiar language variant characteristics its offer can be evaluated” which the court found Neustar had. In its conclusions the court even noted that using Afilias’ justifications for preventing the awarding of the contract to Neustar they themselves might well have not been awarded the contract back in 2012.

The court stated:
“If the petitioner’s argument were to be considered, going back, it might not have been awarded the contract, for the first time in 2012. At that time, the petitioner too was an outsider, without experience; yet it was chosen and awarded the contract.”

The decision to award the .in registry contract to Neustar’s Indian subsidiary, Neustar Data Infotech (India), occurred in August 2018 – although the signing of the contract didn’t occur until October – and followed a highly competitive Request for Proposal (RFP) process designed to identify the provider that would best serve the needs of the .in domain and India’s entire digital community. Among other service enhancements, Neustar vastly improves the ability to register Indian-language domains in native script by enabling end-to-end web portal language support.

Neustar has been working with NIXI for the last five months to undertake the significant work of migrating the .in namespace to Neustar’s industry leading Registry platform. This includes extensive technical preparations and collaboration with government, industry and business stakeholders. Following these preparations, a total of two million .in domain names were successfully migrated to Neustar’s Registry infrastructure in India.

According to a recent report released by India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (India’s Trillion-Dollar Digital Opportunity Report), “India is among the top three global economies in terms of the number of digital consumers. With 560 million internet subscriptions in 2018, up from 238.71 million in 2013, India is the second-largest subscription market in the world”. With this transition, the .in domain is poised for its next phase of growth and will provide a secure, reliable domain that empowers millions of Indian businesses, brands and entrepreneurs.

“We are very excited about the partnership with NIXI as we are convinced that .in is uniquely positioned for significant growth within the Indian and global domain name market,” said Neustar Regional Director – Technical Services, Nitin Wali. “Together, we are excited to cement .in’s place as a national legacy of the Indian digital economy.”

“With Neustar as a technical services provider, the .in domain will benefit from a number of upgrades and improvements that support internet users, Registrars and other stakeholders,” said Nicolai Bezsonoff, Vice President and General Manager of Neustar Registry Solutions. “We are honoured to partner with NIXI and are confident that together we can support all Indian internet users with a fast, secure and accessible .in.”

Neustar is a global information services company with the largest DNS, DDoS mitigation and threat intelligence capabilities in the industry. In addition to .in, Neustar operates the marketing and technical solutions for .US, .CO, .NYC and .BIZ top‐level domains, as well as more than 250 other TLDs for countries, cities, businesses and the world’s leading brands. The .in domain is now backed by Neustar’s award-winning infrastructure, team and experience, which is always evolving with continuous investment and product innovation.

Shri Sanjay Goel, CEO NIXI & Joint Secretary, Ministry of Electronics and IT, Government of India said, “Neustar’s capabilities and experience are well suited to supporting .in in this time of innovation and growth.

In seeking a new Registry provider for .in, it was important to NIXI that we found a partner who is well respected in the industry and has a demonstrated history of professionalism, innovation, and integrity.”

“Neustar has a strong reputation in the domain name Registry space with extensive ccTLD experience. We look forward to working with Neustar over this next dynamic phase of our .in namespace, to develop and provide enhanced and secure DNS services for all Indian internet users and stakeholders,” Mr. Goel added.

A copy of the final court judgement can be accessed from the High Court of New Delhi website here. It will be necessary to obtain the final judgement by using the search function using the relevant case type and number.

Disclosure: the writer provides services to a number of TLD registry providers including Neustar.

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