What is a domain name?
You may wander what a domain name is exactly. Well, a domain name is a string of letters provided by the domain name system (DNS) to allow people to find their way around the Internet using names instead of the numeric IP addresses. When you register a domain name, the DNS allocates a string of numbers (such as 2188.8.131.524) called an Internet Protocol (IP) address. Because the IP address will practically be difficult to remember, the DNS then allocates a name to the IP address for the Internet users to easily remember the address.
What is a domain?
Domain names are registered under top level domains (TLDs). There basically 2 kinds of TLDs: country code TLDs (ccTLDs) such as .za (for South Africa) and .us (for the United States), and generic TLDs (gTLDs) such as .com and .org. It is up to the person wanting to register a domain name to choose a TLD in which they want to register, but they may first have to satisfy the eligibility criteria of that TLD.
There is also a category of gTLDs which can be called region-specific gTLDs. Examples of rsgTLDs are .eu which is for the continent of Europe and .asia for the Asia continent. There is a possibility another category of gTLDs that serve specific cities (city gTLDs).
Is there competition between .za and other TLDs
In its origin, the DNS provides a platform for competition, entrepreneurship and economic development. Competition occurs at various levels between ccTLDs, between ccTLDs and gTLDs and between registries and registrars. For example, a company that operates in SA may choose to register a .com or .biz domain name instead of a.za name. If the same company has offices in the UK or Australia, it may also choose to register a co.uk or com.au name instead of .za.
This competition therefore requires that each TLD has a fairly robust and effective marketing strategy to attract domain name registrations. Due to the ad-hoc nature in which .za originated, not all .za domains are able to compete effectively.
Why does South Africa have the top level domain name of .za and not .sa?
The country codes were established by the International Standards Organisation (ISO) before the domain name system. At the beginning of the DNS, computer scientists chose to adhere to all International standards, and therefore allocated .za to South Africa.
What is a sub-domain?
There is also what is called “sub-domains”. These are domains registered under a TLD. For example, co.za and org.za are sub-domains of the .za ccTLD. They are sometimes called second level domains, and they usually serve different sectors of the society.
Sub-domains are primarily divided into open or unrestricted domains and closed or restricted domains. For example, co.za is an open second level domain which primarily caters for commercial users, while ac.za is a restricted second level domain which caters only for academic and research institutions in South Africa.
Can I register a domain name directly under .za?
No, domain name registrations under .za are currently not allowed - one may only register a domain on the third level (e.g. name.sld.za).
Can I register a .za name if I am not South African?
There is no overall policy prohibiting non-South Africans from registering .za names, but most .za domains, especially the restricted ones, limit eligibility to South African persons.
Does .za DNA register .za domain names?
No, the Authority only administers and manages the .za namespace. This includes developing policy and procedures for .za and the licensing of .za registries and registrars. The registration of domain names is usually done by Internet service providers (ISPs) which are in the business of registering domain names.
Can .za DNA help me choose a suitable ISP to register a domain name?
What are the fees involved in registering a domain name?
Usually, you need to pay a registration fee and then pay a renewal fee annually to keep hold of your name. There are not standard fees for .za yet, as the .za domains determine their fees, while other domains do not charge registration and renewal fees. The .za licensing process will allow the Authority to introduce a coordinated and competitive fee regime.
In addition to registration and renewal fees, ISPs or registrars may charge fees for hosting the domain name, website and email. These “secondary” fees are outside the regulatory ambit of the Authority and are purely fees contractually agreed between a domain name holder and their ISP.
Can I apply to have a new sub-domain under the .za domain?
In principle, yes, you can apply to have a new .za domain, but there is currently a moratorium on new domains until .za DNA finalizes the .za policies and regulations. An announcement on the .za DNA website will be made when the policy has been finalized.
How do I find out how to register other African domain names?
We are only responsible for domain names that end with .za. For names from other African countries or any other international country code top level domain names (ccTLD's), the definitive list is kept at the IANA . You may also want to see the association of African ccTLDs called AFTLD for a list of African ccTLDs.
How do I apply for IP addresses for a new network?
The .za Domain Name Authority deals only with domain names in .za. We do not deal with IP addresses. To get an IP address assignment you must approach your Internet service provider. If you have a need which can be motivated and justified for more than 1000 addresses then you can approach the Regional IP Address Registry (commonly called Regional Internet Registry – RIR) serving your area. In the case of Africa the RIR is AfriNIC
Is it possible to obtain the Who-is (domain name holder and availability information) for a domain name in .za?
Yes, depending on the .za domain you are considering. Not all .za domains have readily available Whois information. You would have to check with each domain, but the Authority has a loose central Whois that links to the Whois services of individual domains.
Does the .za DNA have the mechanisms to resolve disputes over.za domain names?
Yes, .za DNA has the Alternative Dispute Resolution Regulations for the resolution of disputes, but the ADR Regulations only apply to the co.za disputes for now. Why? This is because experience showed that the need for an ADR process only exists in the co.za domain, which is by far the most popular .za domain. The Regulations do provide a room for the extension of application to cover other .za domains should there be a need.
Can .za DNA help in resolving a dispute between a domain name holder and an ISP who registered the domain name on their behalf?
No, the relationship between a person who registers a domain name (domain name holder / registrant) and the ISP they choose to register their domain name is purely a contractual one, and we have no say over disputes arising therefrom.
What if my ISP registers my domain name in their name?
This is usually a bad practice, but the Authority currently cannot resolve such disputes as they are contractual between the ISP and the domain name holder. The South African ISPA has a Code of Conduct for its members against this practice.
Does .za DNA have oversight over domains like .com, .biz, and .net?
No, the Authority has no say whatsoever over the operations of such domains. These domains are what is called generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs) and are operated by organizations approved ICANN.
What is ICANN?
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is responsible for managing and coordinating the Domain Name System (DNS) to ensure that every address is unique and that all users of the Internet can find all valid addresses. It does this by overseeing the distribution of unique IP addresses and domain names. It also ensures that each domain name maps to the correct IP address.
ICANN is also responsible for accrediting the domain name registrars primarily for generic Top Level Domains such as .com, .net, .org and .biz. "Accredit" means to identify and set minimum standards for the performance of registration functions, to recognize persons or entities meeting those standards, and to enter into an accreditation agreement that sets forth the rules and procedures applicable to the provision of Registrar Services.ICANN's role is very limited, and it is not responsible for many issues associated with the Internet, such as financial transactions, Internet content control, spam (unsolicited commercial email), Internet gambling, or data protection and privacy.
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