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Price hike for .co.za domains by ZACR to encourage ISPs to Use ESP System

Price hike for .co.za domains by ZACR to  encourage ISPs to Use ESP System

The price of registering a .co.za domain is set to shoot up by 50%, from R50/year to R75/year, on 1 March, but only for those using UniForum SA’s legacy domain registration system. Those electing to use a new system, based on the Extensible Provision Protocol, or EPP, will pay just R39,90/year.

UniForum South Africa, which trades as the ZA Central Registry, hopes to encourage Internet service providers and other entities that provide domain registration services to move to the EPP system.

For an ISP to move from the legacy to the EPP side, they’d have to set up their systems to interact with the new system.There are some technical requirements they have to meet and an accreditation process.
–Calvin Browne, Director, ZACR.

This is one of a number of policy changes UniForum, trading as the ZA Central Registry (ZACR), will institute from the beginning of March.

ZACR director Calvin Browne says the change in price is not only about hiking fees, which hasn’t risen in more than 10 years, but about encouraging the move from a system that is cumbersome and costly to maintain to one that is far more efficient to operate.

The legacy system, which is based on the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol, grew organically and does not have the same standards as the new EPP system. Previously, the legacy system allowed anonymous registrations and fraudsters could register domains, use them for a month or two, and then vanish without paying for them.

“We won’t publish a domain in the zone until we’ve received payment,” says Browne. “We used to publish them immediately. The reason we had to do that was for spammers and the like who were taking advantage.”

The expiry period for currently registered domains is falling from six months to 60 days so that those that have not been paid for can be returned promptly to the pool of available domain names. New domains will return to the pool if payment is not received in 30 days.

End users are unlikely to feel the effects of the policy changes immediately. “Our target market isn’t the end user really,” Browne explains. “We’re more interested in registrars, Internet service providers and so on. For an ISP to move from the legacy to the EPP side, they would have to set up their systems to interact with the new system. There are some technical requirements they have to meet and an accreditation process.”

However, the legacy system, which still accounts for almost 84% of .co.za domain name registrations, won’t be discontinued any time soon. “There’s a large legacy system out there. ISPs have decades’ worth or code that interface with the old system. We can’t just shut it down.”

The ZACR hopes, however, that the price incentive will encourage a gradual move to the EPP system and that this will make managing domains easier and make it even more difficult for fraudsters to abuse the system.

About UniForum SA:
UniForum SA, trading as the ZA Central Registry, is the Registry Operator for the CO.ZA Internet Domain Name Space. UniForum SA was established as a non-profit organisation in 1988 by a group of end users, developers, and vendors who cooperated to form a professional association that would promote and exchange information on open systems. For more information, visit: www.registry.net.za.

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