The Ottawa Sun
Friday, February 27, 1998

Canadian domain changes under way

by Rob Hall, rob@echelon.ca

It soon will be easier to get a Canadian domain name on the Internet. A new proposal is currently in the public comment stage, and will be finalized by March 15.

For years, Canadians, and specifically Internet Service Providers (ISPs), have been complaining about the rules, regulations and hassles of getting a Canadian domain name. Canadian domain names are those that end in ".ca".

Most companies chose instead to grab a ".com" domain name from the U.S.

Currently, it is estimated that more than 100,000 names in the ".com" database are from Canadian entities.

This means that we have effectively contributed more than $10 million into the pockets of Americans for no good reason.

By doing so, we have funded the development of the Internet south of the border, with no benefit returning to Canada.

The problems with the ".ca" registry were simple. It was slow. As it was volunteer work that was running it, it was not dependable as a business service.

ISPs were upset at the response time. They wanted to please their client, and thought this service should run as a business.

The rules for a domain were also cumbersome. You had to apply, and wait a week for objections. Whereas with the ".com" domains, you could often have it registered and active within the hour.

Names were also restricted based on what type of entity you were. For example, if your company was named Widgets. You could only have widgets.ca if you were federally incorporated, and doing business in most provinces. If you were provincially incorporated you had to take widgets.on.ca. Non-incorporated firms took widgets.ottawa.on.ca.

For companies looking to stake their claim to the Internet, this wasn't good enough.

Now all of that is changing.

Over the last few months a group of representatives from different bodies with a stake in the registration process have hammered out a proposed solution.

There was equal representation from the current ".ca" committee, the Canadian Association of Internet Providers, the Internet Society of Canada, and Industry Canada.

The proposal can be found on Canarie's website at www.canarie.ca. It is open to public comment until March 1.

Basically, a non-profit corporation is being formed. It will have dedicated staff and the old rules for registration will be removed. Now ".ca" domains will be handed out on a first come, first served basis.

As well, you will register your domains through "agents". Much like the travel industry, there will be agents who will actually do the work of registering the domain, while the new corporation will be tasked with overseeing it, and providing the database and servers required.

Fees will also be charged to provide the funding for the non-profit corporation. This will affect all ".ca" domains including existing ones. When it's all said and done, it will mean a much more efficient system.

You will be able to register a ".ca" domain in minutes, rather than days.

If you want to have your say, now is the time.

Because by this time next month, the ".ca" registry will be on it's way to being transformed into something useful.

And that can only mean that more money will stay in Canada and the Internet here will flourish even more.

Copyright © 1998 by The Ottawa Sun. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission.