After the ccTLD registrar auDA liberalized its hierarchy, anyone in Australia are now allowed to register domain names directly under the .au top-level domain for the first time today.
Following the implementation of a priority allocation system, current registrants of matching third-level domains in zones such as .com.au and .net.au will be the only people who may initially get second-level names under the .au domain extension.
This procedure lasts for a period of six months and gives domain owners the ability to claim their matching 2LD almost instantly, provided that there are no other registrants who have matching rights.
A contention procedure is initiated in situations in which more than one registrant submits an application for the same domain name, such as in situations in which example.com.au and example.net.au are held by separate individuals.
Registrants whose registration dates are earlier than the cut-off date of February 4, 2018, will be given preference over those whose registration dates are later.
If all of the registrants have names that were created after the cut-off date, the one with the oldest name is given precedence.
In the event that there are only registrants with names that predate the cut-off date, they will need to negotiate a mutually agreeable solution to determine who will acquire the name. In the event that they are unable to reach an agreement, the name will continue to be held in reserve, and the applicants will be required to renew their applications on an annual basis, up until there is only one candidate left.
The procedure does not contemplate any auctions that are supported by the auDA.
On September 20, any domains that have not been claimed by the time the priority procedure has been completed will be added to the pool of available domains.
It is a significantly shorter grandfathering time than other liberalized ccTLDs, such as Nominet, which gave.co.uk registrants five years to claim their corresponding 2LD. It will be interesting to see what influence this has on adoption, given it is a much shorter grandfathering period than other liberalized ccTLDs.
Direct.uk domains were made accessible to the public for the first time in June 2014; but, by the end of the following year, fewer than a quarter million had been registered, compared to over 10 million third-level names.
There were around 2.5 million .uk 2LDs in existence as the five-year priority window was due to shut in 2019, but that number skyrocketed to 3.6 million in the final month as registrants waited until the very last minute to secure their domains.
That turned out to be the highest point; as of now, the number of.uk second-level domain names is less than 1.4 million, compared to the 9.7 million third-level names. It is still pretty unusual to come across a direct .uk name in use here in the wild.
The auDA, which has more stringent standards than many other ccTLDs, will ensure that everyone who applies for a 2LD is in fact qualified for the 3LD they presently have. This might discourage people from applying for a 2LD, which is an intriguing twist in the priority process.
The administration of 3.4 million third-level domains is now being handled by .au.