After being twice-delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Domain Pulse is back and will take place as a face-to-face event on 17 and 18 May. The conference will be hosted by DENIC at the historical plenary chamber of the German Parliament in Bonn. For two days, there will be discussions on the trends and developments in the domain name industry.
2021’s Domain Pulse is the latest conference to fall victim to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Originally scheduled to be held in Beethoven’s home town, the German city of Bonn, in February and hosted by DENIC, it will now be held in February 2022.
Registries universally said they’re not content police in a discussion on domain name take down processes involving legal counsels from the operators of 6 European registries, both generic and country code TLDs. However processes vary among the registries.
The discussion involved representatives from dotSaarland, DENIC (.de), SWITCH (.ch), SIDN (.nl), DNS Belgium (.be) and Nominet (.uk) at the Domain Pulse conference in Munich Friday, the annual event that rotates between Germany, Switzerland and Austria.
One registry that does make decisions on takedowns, or suspensions as they’re often called, and the content on the sites using the domain names, is SWITCH. Anna Kuhn explained how SWITCH was rather unusual in that they were both a registry and operated a national Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT), which gave them some additional expertise. However SWITCH still doesn’t make decisions on content, only on domain names involved in the hosting malware and phishing Combatting cybercrime, Kuhn explained, is one of the roles of the registry operator.
Volker Greimann from dotSaarland, the only new gTLD operator in the panel discussion, said .saarland is in a different position to the country code top level domain (ccTLD) registries as they have a direct contract with ICANN. Additionally, the Saarland regional government said they don’t want their new generic top level domain (new gTLD) to be a haven for crime. The gTLD for the German state has an anti-abuse rule in their terms and conditions that requires domain names to not ruin the reputation of the Saar region.
Horst explained the German registry's position of the German registry in this respect: “DENIC is not the right point of contact to which to turn when it comes to content. If DENIC were to evaluate content and delete, at its own discretion, domains through which websites with questionable content can be accessed, this would be equivalent to censorship. In a democracy based on the separation of powers, no one can seriously support law enforcement by the private sector. This philosophy of DENIC's is, by the way, also reflected by the unanimous opinion of the German courts.”
The courts, Horst explained, have always sided with DENIC’s view that they also aren’t in a position to judge on what is illegal content and that complaints should always go to the registrant if they can be contacted.
SIDN’s Maarten Simon said SIDN will never just take down a domain name and that contacting the registry should be a last resort. However Simon also noted .nl domain names are much more trusted by Dutch people than any other TLD. And that this trust is both in SIDN’s interest to protect so that internet users continue to want to visit sites using the Dutch ccTLD and businesses want to register .nl domain names. Building trust benefits SIDN’s bottom line as more .nl domain names are registered. For complaints regarding .nl domain names, there is an independent appeals board with a number of judges and professors with the expertise to deal with complaints.
Peter Vergote from DNS Belgium also noted how .be has nothing to do with judging content hosted using a .be domain name, so to get a domain name suspended a complaint has to give necessary evidence such as a court order to have a domain name taken down.
Vergote echoed Simon’s views on .nl in that DNS Belgium deeply cares about the quality of the .be zone and it’s their sincere duty to do what they can without taking unnecessary risks. While they are more active than in the past on dealing with complaints, they will never evaluate content on a website. This position has been backed by a court order from a Belgian court that states deciding illegal content is up to the courts and can’t be done by DNS Belgium. When it comes to phishing though, DNS Belgium treats this differently and will take action without a court order if they are advised from a competent body that a domain name is used for phishing.
But DNS Belgium will never take it upon themselves to suspend a domain name that’s suspected of being used for phishing because that’s a content evaluation. Additionally Vergote said a phisher is unlikely to put their correct identity in Whois. DNS Belgium suspends around a dozen domain names per month with complaints largely driven by government agencies and rarely from private individuals or organisations.
So what about the domain names that are required to be taken down, or suspended? For SIDN, Simon explained the procedure starts with a form to be completed on the SIDN website where the complainant explains why the domain name should be taken and what they’ve done to date to complain. If the complaint is clear cut SIDN will go to the registrar and get the domain name taken down. SIDN receives about 20 requests per year and take down one, maybe 2, each year out of the 5.8 million .nl registrations.
Nominet’s Wenban-Smith commented on the futility of removing or suspending a domain name because even if they do, the content still exists. Nominet doesn’t allow child abuse or content that promotes criminal activity on .uk domain names. But Nominet doesn’t make decisions on what is illegal content but does cooperate with those who can such as law enforcement. For those wishing to make complaints, Nominet doesn’t take requests from those outside the UK. In 2017 Wenban-Smith said Nominet suspended 16,000 .uk domain names in 2017.
The 2018 Domain Pulse conference is motoring into view and will be held at BMW World in Munich on 22 and 23 March. The annual conference this year is organised by DENIC, the German registry with a focus on the digital future as well as the state of the domain name industry. The conference rotates between Germany, Switzerland (SWITCH) and Austria (nic.at).
The free conference is a great way of getting to know the German-speaking domain name market with a few hundred people from registries, registrars and resellers, domain investors and a range of other participants from the domain name world. And fear not if you’re not a German speaker. Most, if not all, presentations in German are translated into English [this writer certainly hopes so!] and there are plenty of great opportunities to network and get to know the key players in the German, Swiss and Austrian domain name industries, including the usual evening event. Already around 250 people have registered.
The conference, as always, has a focus on presentations and panels dealing with domain names, but also covers a range of other topics. This year there will be a look at the future with presentations on the governance of the Internet of Things, a futurologist looking at “digital enlightenment”, smart mobility and connected driving, another on security, terrorism and fear and another on privacy and security in the digital space.
And of course, there will be presentations on domain names with one of the most important and interesting topical discussions likely to be on the upcoming European General Data Protection Regulation. The GDPR is intended to strengthen and unify data protection for individuals in the European Union. This has an impact on any business that stores personal information on European citizens and the domain name business.
And that’s just day one! Day 2 will kick off with a presentation from Wolfgang Kleinwächter who will look at internet governance in 2018. There will also be a panel discussion on the notice and takedown debate from a registry perspective involving representatives from dotSaarland, DENIC, SWITCH, SIDN, DNS Belgium and Nominet, a discussion on how to overcome registration growth slowdown and an update on what’s been happening in 2017 from the 3 co-hosts.
To register for the free 2018 Domain Pulse, check out the programme and nearby hotels, or even see who else is going, go to:
The recent news broke by Domain Incite that Uniregistry will “massively increase the price of some of its under-performing new gTLDs in an effort to keep them afloat” is surely an overreaction.
According to the report, Uniregistry will increase the fees on 16 of its underperforming new generic Top Level Domains by up to 3,000% from 8 September. Currently Uniregistry operates 27 new gTLDs with 871,000 domains under management, although nTLDstats.com lists only 26 new gTLDs. All of the new gTLDs have less than 10,000 registrations.
“We need more revenue from these strings, especially the low volume ones, without question,” Uniregistry CEO Frank Schilling told Domain Incite. “We can’t push on a string and stoke demand overnight. So in order for that string to survive as a standalone it has to be profitable.”
Increasing the registration fee does not necessarily impact on registrations. One new gTLD registry operator Domain Pulse spoke to pointed to .berlin’s recent experience where they increased their registry fee by 50% without any detrimental impact on registrations.
“Increasing the registry fee from €20 to €30 had no detrimental impact on registrations. OK, that´s not 3000% but it’s a huge step.”
“It is also very clear, that a TLD, or better a registry, could not survive with less than 5,000 domains, if the price is in the range between $10 to $50,” the registry operator went on to say.
It’s also something that DotBerlin’s Katrin Ohlmer explained at the Domain Pulse conference in Vienna in February. Speaking on a panel on the future of TLDs, not just new gTLDs, Ohlmer who was speaking with her Dotzon CEO hat on said “for .berlin, they have had their own experiences. In a bid to stimulate registration growth in the early days, they gave away or sold cheaply around 90,000 domains, but they didn’t gain anything long term as many of these didn’t renew.”
“Three years on from the launch of General Availability, registrations have now stabilised and are gradually increasing, now sitting at 59,000. These days the registry has even increased their registration fee with no detrimental impact on registrations.”
And while paid registrations are important to pay the bills, Ohlmer explained it’s “not just about the number of registrations but the usage and addressing the right target group. One of the main tasks for registries is to get message across is that a domain name is useful for a number of reasons, not just web and email.”
Probably a more important issue though is the future of some of the new gTLDs. There are currently at least 200 new gTLDs that have less than 5,000 registrations. Some of these have less than a hundred registrations and have been in General Availability for over 2 years. So their future is grim. And there are thousands of registrants in these underperforming new gTLDs that face an uncertain future after investing not so much in buying the domain, but developing a brand and face online with that domain.
Registrants in underperforming new gTLDs face some problems. “They’ve registered domain names in TLD´s that are special, for example .tatoo and .diet. and these registrants can´t just move to any other TLD,” our registry operator told Domain Pulse. “I guess for a few thousand people around the world asking over $300 per year is really not a problem. Of course for domainers or SEO folks, it is a problem and this pricing very unattractive.”
So what is the future? Research presented at the 2015 Domain Pulse conference by Godefroy Jordan from new gTLD operator StartingDot, now owned by Afilias, found that most new gTLDs sold for between €5 and €50. They also found there was a very poor correlation between volume and price and when the registrar fee for the domains gets above €50, it “really starts to have impact on registration volumes.”
“Many of the new gTLD will disappear from the market in the next 5 years,” said our registry operator. “For example Donuts with a few hundred gTLD´s may have problems sustaining all of them and they have huge scaling effects because the high number.”
But some specialised new gTLDs can sustain high prices, such as those for the financial and insurance industries where the fee is really not an object.
Certainly there is an uncertain future for some new gTLDs. But there are 28.5 million domains under management across the 1,216 new gTLDs and there are 173 with more than 10,000 registrations, 278 with more than 5,000 and many more that are still getting going. Add in the hundreds of brand .gTLDs and it would be safe to say that well over half, probably three-quarters, are safe.
And back to Uniregistry and Frank Schilling. According to our registry operator “he’s very clever and very good at marketing. It could be his view to give these underperforming new gTLDs a last chance, to try and increase the fee and if the revenue in the next 3 to 5 years is not enough to survive he may look at selling or closing down the gTLD after the initial 10 year contract with ICANN ends.”
The Chinese domain name market is one of huge untapped potential Ray Zheng of the Shanghai Racent Internet Group said at the recent Domain Pulse conference in Vienna. There are only 40 million domain names registered in the country with a population of 1.355 billion. This point was also made by Kassey Lee of the Coreile Letter blog.
Zheng, whose Racent provides domain registration, website development and hosting services in China, was part of a panel looking at opportunities in China and outlined how registrants are able to obtain finance for purchasing domain names, although not through traditional methods such as through banks.
Both Lee, who gave an earlier video presentation from his home in New Zealand, and Zheng said .com is still king in China, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some huge transactions in other TLDs. Zheng noted that Qihoo 360 Technology Co Ltd, who has the 360.cn domain name, spent $350 million to buy 360.com from Vodafone in 2015. (Or did I mishear the sale price, as media reports at the time reported the rumours of the sale being around $17 million.) Regardless of the figure, the amount is the highest reported sale of a domain name.
But while there are some huge purchases, Lee said the majority of Chinese companies don’t have a domain name. For anyone wanting to invest in Chinese TLDs, Lee advised to watch out for any changes in government regulation and to read and study issues related to China for what could be popular domain names in the country.
The Domain Pulse conference was held in Vienna on 16 and 17 February, and attended by around 300 people from the domain name industry, mostly from Europe. Domain Pulse is the annual conference of the registries for the German-speaking countries – Austria (.at), Switzerland (.ch) and Germany (.de).
There were calls for the worldâs Least Developed Countries, particularly those in Africa, to be given more access to input into ICANNâs policy making processes at the Domain Pulse conference in Vienna last Thursday.
There are issues with input from Africa and other developing countries due to a lack of resources to enable adequate input, said Thomas Schneider, the recently appointed deputy head of international affairs at the Swiss Federal Office of Communication (OFCOM), Switzerland and the current chair of ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee. Schneider went on to say that as the GAC works by consensus it is often difficult for African countries to get their views heard.
However the view wasnât shared by all on the panel with Thomas Rickert saying that the Generic Names Supporting Organisation (GNSO) works by consensus and allows input from all. Rickert is acting chair of ecoâs, the German internet association, Names and Numbers division.
However Schneider replied asking âhow many Africans even know thereâs a GNSO?â
The discussion took place during day one of the Domain Pulse conference held in Vienna on 16 and 17 February with around 300 people attending, predominately from Austria, Germany and Switzerland.
Domain name registrations are in a state of flux around the world. While registrations in the more than 1,200 new generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs) continue to grow strongly, registrations in the legacy gTLDs such as .com are declining and among country code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs) registrations are growing very slowly. And the trend is only likely to continue.
These are the findings of research conducted by CENTR and presented by Patrick Myles, CENTR Data Analyst, on day one of the Domain Pulse conference in Vienna last Thursday 16 February, attended by around 300 people. Domain Pulse is the annual conference of the registries for the German-speaking countries – Austria (.at), Switzerland (.ch) and Germany (.de).
Among European ccTLDs, the focus of CENTR’s research, Myles noted how growth rates (not registrations) have been declining for several years with an apparent stabilisation in the last few years.
So is it possible to arrest this decline in TLDs apart from the new gTLDs, and even in the new gTLDs will their growth rates come to a halt sometime soon?
In a following panel session, Michiel Henneke from SIDN that the .nl registry is particularly worried. In a country with 17 million people and 5.7 million registrations, and now the .amsterdam new gTLD, they have to focus on a probable saturation and face a future of low, if any, growth in .nl. The Netherlands also has less of a profile, Henneke said, than Amsterdam, making the city new gTLD appealing in international markets.
Even the rise of new gTLDs poses something of a threat to ccTLDs. Henneke noted that a few major Dutch companies have established their own TLDs and others, along with some regions, are interested in future applications. This could easily result in a decline in registrations in other areas as major brands often have hundreds, if not thousands, of registrations and small business may find a regional gTLD more appealing.
Even SIDN’s own research shows a worrying trend. Usage of websites is increasing but Google and Facebook are taking out an ever larger piece of the pie and it’s ambiguous as to whether young people are interested in domains.
But there is a bright spot – whenever EURid conducts a promotional campaign, .nl registrations rise!
Looking to the future, Henneke said “diversification not an option for every ccTLD as they’re answerable to government bodies. But SIDN has been experimenting with opportunities in similar areas. “DNS is required for e-billing so SIDN became a co-creator of a DNS billing service in the Netherlands, but there are few other markets that are as attractive when it comes to revenue as domain names and the e-billing service is just a small part of revenue. We’ve also taken over an e-identity company with 12 million users, so we believe this will be a significant contributor to future revenue.”
For Toby Hall, CEO of MMX who operates 26 new gTLDs, they have a focus on China where there are huge opportunities. But this is an opportunity that many ccTLDs don’t have. In a number of cultures where there’s an entrepreneurial spirit and energy that could have a positive outcome for all in the industry. Hall has found that the younger generation are wanting to use TLDs for other reasons than simply for a website or email, and that kids often relate to email as something in school.
“For the long term integrity of any domain name it has to resonate and have something of value,” Hall said. “We should be wanting to encourage new ways of thinking for new gTLDs”
For .berlin, they have had their own experiences. In a bid to stimulate registration growth in the early days, they gave away or sold cheaply around 90,000 domains in the early days, but they didn’t gain anything long term as many of these didn’t renew. Three years on from the launch of General Availability, registrations have now stabilised and are gradually increasing, now sitting at 59,000. These days the registry has even increased their registration fee with no detrimental impact on registrations.
Even MMX has had their own learning experiences. In the early days MMX set up a registrar to sell the registry’s own domains but they found this was “a wrong turn” as it created tension when doing deals with key registrars, and it was expensive. “It doesn’t make sense to create a distribution channel one will be competing with.”
Katrin Ohlmer, CEO of Dotzon, said it’s “not about the number of registrations but the usage and addressing the right target group. One of the main tasks for registries is to get message across is that a domain name is useful for a number of reasons, not just web and email.”
For .berlin which Ohlmer has been involved in from the start, 50% to 60% of .berlin domains are in active use.
On the threat to ccTLDs. Ohlmer observed that Audi has been setting up domain names for each of its dealers in Germany. Ohlmer also believes that with usage by brands, awareness of new gTLDs will increase and result in more registrations.
To drive registrations, Ohlmer wants to see it made easier for people to use their domains.
“For kids, it’s more about how easy is it to use for websites. If getting a website was as easy as getting a Facebook page, many more would have their own website and domain name,” she said.
“We need to change a lot of the language associate with domain names to appeal to a wider audience,” said Hall.
There’s less than a month to go until this year’s Domain Pulse conference, this year to be held in the Austrian capital of Vienna, with plenty of networking, introductions to Austrian culture and even some discussions by day on challenges for the domain name industry, internet governance, data protection, cyberwar and cybercrime over the two days.This year’s conference will be held in the Palais Niederösterreich on 16 and 17 February. But unlike previous years, there will be no simultaneous German-English and English-German translations. But around a third of presentations will be in English, and there are plenty of opportunities to meet participants in the Austrian, German and Swiss domain name industry. After all, this is the largest domain name conference for the German-speaking countries.Topics up for discussion at next month’s conference include, why do we need a strong network, a keynote address on ICANN and the internet of tomorrow, the IANA transition, challenges for the domain name industry as well as exploring new markets such as China, the Russian-Ukrainian Cyberwar and the use of Social Media, protecting internet user’s data, an update on the major issues for the Austrian, German and Swiss registries and cybercrime.For registration, the programme and more information, see:
Domain Pulse, the conference for the largest annual German language domain name industry conference, has put out a call for papers for its 2017 get together to be held in Vienna, Austria, on 16 and 17 February.The theme for Domain Pulse 2017 is Networks and Networkers and will look at the broader spectrum of the term. Such as who and what is linked, how important are networks, where does networking take place and how does it work and what problems does networking bring and/or solve?While this is the general theme, other ideas, particularly relating to domain names, will be considered. The conference organisers, in 2017 the Austrian registry nic.at, is not only looking for academic contributions but also application-oriented and practical inputs covering the sociological and technical meaning of networks.There are two formats for presentations:
- The first is an introductory speech with a maximum time of five to 10 minutes and up to five slides. The purpose of introductory speeches is to give a quick overview on a topic. There are no questions from the audience.
- The second is a “Lightning Talk” with a timeframe of 15 minutes for the talk and five minutes for a Q&A and a maximum 10 slides. In a lightning talk a topic can be further elaborated. There is the possibility for the audience to discuss and ask questions.
For interested presenters, an abstract submission and a CV can be sent to email@example.com before 10 December and include whether the proposal is for an introductory or lightning presentation. Abstracts should be a minimum of 500 and a maximum 700 words and give a rough overview of ideas and or work. Presentations can be given in German or English.The organisers have outlined the benefits for speakers saying there will be the opportunity to participate in the two-day conference and broaden networks. There is also an invitation to attend the speaker’s dinner on the evening before the conference and to enjoy all the amenities of the two days (+1). There is no financial remuneration to speakers however in special cases travel and hotel costs will be covered.Proposals will be considered and evaluated with announcements made after 9 January. For more information on the Domain Pulse conference and the call for papers see: