New domains names get launch date Mid 2014

South Africans will be able to register for four new domains, .africa, .joburg, .capetown and .durban.

The ZA Central Registry (ZACR), which administers the .co.za domain and will soon oversee four new geographic generic top-level domains (gTLDs), says the general public should be able to register these new domains from mid-July next year.

ZACR CEO Neil Dundas says that although there are “aspects of the process” that are out of the ZACR’s control, .africa, .joburg, .capetown and .durban should be generally available on 15 July 2014.

Dundas was speaking at the Internet Service Providers’ Association’s annual iWeek conference south of Johannesburg on Monday.

General availability will be preceded by a “land rush” process where those names deemed to be “premium” by the ZACR will be auctioned off to the highest bidder. The land rush process will, in turn, be preceded by a “sunrise” period where businesses, other trademark holders and government can apply to have specific names reserved.

Applications for the sunrise phase open on 15 September and the ZACR last month called on businesses and governments to begin preparing their applications for this phase.

African governments can ask to reserve names under the .africa domain that are of national significance. The process is intended to protect names under three categories. The first is geographic names, and includes names of countries, capital cities and major towns.

The second seeks to protect religious, cultural and linguistic names and includes languages, tribes, peoples, religious groups and places of cultural or religious significance.

The third and last category consists of economic and public interest names — those which are uniquely linked to government bodies and institutions. This category also covers offensive names that would inherently advocate prejudice or hatred on the basis of race, ethnicity, political association, gender, sexuality, religion, conscience or culture.

Domain names that are deemed offensive will be listed on the reserved name list indefinitely and no party will be able to register them.

Dundas says when it comes to the new gTLDs, the ZACR “can only provision domain names to an Icann (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) accredited registrar”.

Of the 281 South African domain registrars, Dundas says “around 130 fit the bill”. Those that don’t won’t be able to acquire any of the new gTLDs, but Dundas says the ZACR intends establishing a “proxy registrar” that will use to provision domains to non-accredited registrars.

According to Dundas, based on global precedents, the ZACR anticipates the sunrise phase lasting three months, from the beginning of March until the end of May.

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