South Africa’s ccTLD manager ZA Central Registry (ZACR) has informed its domain registrars according to a report in the South African technology news site My Broadband of an imminent hike in the domain name prices for registering or renewing co.za, org.za, net.za, and web.za from 1 March 2015, the ZA.
ZACR CEO Lucky Masilela said the wholesale price of registrations through their extensible provisioning protocol (EPP) system would become R45, while legacy registrations would increase to R90, Currently EPP costs R35, while legacy registrations cost R65.88. Apparently the new price increases were approved in November 2014, and were originally set to take effect on 16 February 2015.
Some .ZA client reactions on the My Broandband blog on the increased pricing complained that
“Internationally prices has gone DOWN. It’s only in South Africa that pricing goes UP. The BEE partners probably seeing dollar signs and figured they’ll fleece the over 1 million domains in SA for more money!”….and another.. “Under the veil of “EPP upgrade”. Just another instance of the world progressing and we lagging behind, then when we get the same technology they decide to up the price considerably. I’m definitely going to move to .com”
Such comments have come up in the past when the registry systems are not well managed, confirming complaints by clients on the then Uniforum registry services now ZACR sparked outrage on the service outages and majoring on the perceived monopoly of the Uniforum,
“Never really had a problem until now but for the only domain registrar for .co.za, being down the whole weekend is beyond a mere ‘technical glitch’. It’s totally unacceptable. I guess we can be count ourselves fortunate uniforum doesn’t run any of the root servers”
This news follows shortly after the ccTLD managers announced that it had passed the one million mark milestone. “The ZA Central Registry (ZACR) confirms that today’s (Friday 23 January) tally of registered, active domain names ending in .za is 1 001 464,” the organisation said according to a Fin24 report.
Seeing the development one wonders the logic behind increasing the domain name prices yet the world prices for registering a domain name are going down after ICANN has approved the delegation and thus availability of more suffixes. The move raises doubt the actual number of value or revenue generated from new registrations and or annual renewals for the names ending in co.za, org.za, net.za, and web.za. Some new names that are in the pool courtesy of the new gtld registrations in south Africa include .joburg, .capetown and .durban. Is this a way to force an increase of the registrations on the three new domain name suffixes?
Well one could ask also if perhaps the vast majority of the domain names in the over 1 milion registrations are packed. According to the ZACR website their statistics .co.za make up the largest registrations with a 96.270%.
Mutation of ZACR
ZACR formerly Uniforum has come through several changes; this is especially after the company saw its change as the only opportunity at getting the .africa new gtld opportunity. ZACR though a controversial means in partnership with the African Union applied for the .africa against another AUC endorsed applicant DotConnectAfrica, which has now ended in litigation and unavailability of .africa names.and is set to be decided upon in 2015 by an IRP panel.
ZACR came as a resultant change from several entities that include an organization that emerged in the form of the African Registry Consortium (ARC) which was and an unregistered, yet to be established. The ARC would be owned by Domain Name Services (Pty) Ltd. (DNS) and Convergence Partners (Pty) Ltd. which came about as a result of serious opposition to the AFTLD registering .africa since it was alleged that past Board of Directors of AfriNic were influencing the process of endorsement for African Union i.e. to unfairly assist the AfTLD, in order to benefit themselves. Since then ZACR was adopted to take over from Uniforum and has since applied for three geographic new gtlds including the .africa.
At this point, ZACR will have to convince its clients on its price hike, despite the switch from the old legacy system to the EPP system, which should have made it instead competitive like any global registry system, raising concerns over monopoly as well as business ethics.