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12th December, 2002

The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) has announced the redelegation of .la - the country code top level domain corresponding to the People's Democratic Republic of Lao. 

Every country code such as .la, .us, or .uk is managed by an appropriate body in each country who administer the technical function for domains within their allotted space - in the UK, for example, this role is performed by Oxford-based Nominet UK. The body that is ultimately responsible for deciding who gets to run a country code is the IANA - currently part of ICANN's remit. 

In common with many ccTLDs, the .la domain was originally operated by an individual - in this case a Mr. Sisomphet Nhoybouakong - on a fairly informal basis. However, as the Internet grew from a medium mainly used for research by academics into a vital part of any country's commercial infrastructure, governments have inevitably become more concerned with ensuring ccTLDs are managed on a more formal, structured basis. 

In common with this trend the Lao government requested in early 2002 for .la to be redelegated to LANIC - the Lao National Internet Committee - which is made up of representatives of various government departments including the Ministry of Communication, Transportation, Posts and Construction and the Ministry of Information and Culture. After evaluating the stability of the proposed set-up IANA agreed to the redelegation and it is expected the changes will be finalised early next year. 

With their new control over .la, LANIC would be in a position to market the domain as the domain for "Los Angeles, Louisiana and Latin America", mirroring the successful effort by the Pacific island of Tuvalu to promote their .tv ccTLD to the world. According to the IANA report, this was previously attempted by Hong-Kong based Sterling Limited under an agreement with the Lao government. However, given the mixed response to other "alternative" ccTLDs such as .sc (the Seychelles TLD marketed to Scotland) and .cc (the Cocos Islands TLD marketed as a general domain) it remains to be seen whether .la would be a commercial success if developed in this manner. 

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