POTRAZ Domain Name System (DNS) Framework Project

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Earlier we explained what a Domain Name System (DNS) is. This article introduced the basic structure of this DNS and now we will take a look at the POTRAZ DNS framework project.

POTRAZ published a consultation paper in 2019 on a DNS framework for Zimbabwe. This led POTRAZ to publish a framework project after the regulator has held consultations with the public. The draft document concerns what the “.zw” ccTLD (country code top level domain). More specifically the management, administration, registration of the ccSLD (country code second level domains). Examples of ccSLDs from Zimbabwe are:

  • .co.zw (which is open to the general public)
  • .ac.zw .org.zw (reserved for educational institutions)
  • .gov.zw (reserved for the government and its agencies)
  • .edu.zw (reserved for educational institutions)
  • net.zw (for network service providers only)
  • .org.zw (which is open to the general public)

The above examples are examples of ccSLDs currently available to any person or entity wishing to register a website using the Zimbabwe ccSLD.

Here are the highlights of the DNS framework project published by POTRAZ

Creating a DNS registry

POTRAZ will establish a DNS registry, which is a database of all domain names licensed under a TLD (Top level domain). In the Disorganized, POTRAZ says it will license a private entity as an application service provider to manage the “.zw” ccTLD. The Licensee will be called ZW DNS Registry or The Registry.

ZW DNS structure

The examples of ccSLDs that were mentioned above will remain:

  • .co.zw (which is open to the general public)
  • .ac.zw (for educational institutions only)
  • .gov.zw (for government and its agencies only)
  • .edu.zw (for educational institutions only)
  • .net.zw (for network service providers only)
  • .org.zw (which is open to the general public)

The changes that the document mentioned to this structure were that the unlimited domain “.zw” will be open to the public at the second level. (ccSLD) but as a bonus. There would also be unlimited registrations of “.co.zw”, “.org.zw” and “.net.zw”

Nevertheless, “.gov.zw ”will always be reserved for the government. The .ac.zw and .edu.zw domains are always reserved for academic institutions identified by the government or an accredited registrar.

Domain name registration

The registration will follow the 3R model which is the holder, the registrar and finally the registry. Domain names will be registered through an accredited registrar appointed by the registry. The Registrar will require the following from an entity or individual making the request:

  • An order placed for the registration of a Domain Name
  • All registration and service fees have been paid
  • The registrant has started using the domain name or there has been documentation provided to the registrar regarding a domain name

Registrars will register domains in the order in which they are submitted and upon registration the domain name is registered for one year. Although registrars register applicants in order of receipt of applications. Trademark owners, registered companies and intellectual property owners have preference in the event of a conflict.

The document also states that they will tackle domain parking by using tools and means to identify parked domains and deregister them.

During registration, a domain name is renewed every year. The Domain Name is also reserved for the Holder for a fixed period. (not specified in the document) period of time.

Rules for creating a domain name

A domain name registration must follow the ICAAN (The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) and ITEF (Internet Engineering Working Group) regulations:

  • Domains can only have characters from az and 0-9
  • The maximum length of a domain name is 63 characters
  • A domain name cannot start or end with quotes (“)
  • Domains also must not have quotes in order.

Domain name prices and fees

The draft DNS framework says (in article 13) that the price of domain registration is agreed between the registrar and the holder. The exact figures were not given in the document, but it is said that the registry will charge the base rate for domain names. The Registry will also inform The Regulator (POTRAZ) of any change in the price of the Domain Names.

The draft DNS framework is open for public comment

POTRAZ’s draft DNS policy framework is open to the public for comments. I encourage you all to read the full document. You can find the link to do so below:

The public consultation process takes place until October 31, 2020. To participate in the consultation process, all comments and questions should be directed through the channels below:


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