auDA Awards Registry Contract To Afilias

Disclaimer: I am now an auDA Demand Class Director. The article below is my personal opinion, and does not purport to be the views of auDA.

So here goes with treading the fine line of being both a blogger and an auDA Director. Wish me well!

Biggest Change In 15 Years

Yesterday saw the decision made by the auDA Board to change registry operators from the long standing incumbent AusRegistry (Neustar) to Afilias. This was the culmination of the “Registry Transformation Project” (RTP) led by well-respected industry veteran Dr Bruce Tonkin, and ably assisted by Project Manager Peter Mason.

  • auDA official statement is here.
  • David Goldstein from DomainPulse also covers the story from an Australian perspective.
  • For an international take, have a read of the Domain Name Wire and Domain Incite articles.

Some key points:

  • AusRegistry’s contract continues until 30th June 2018 – Afilias takes over 1st July 2018.
  • As you would expect, Afilias have hit the ground running – the DNW and Domain Incite articles highlight this fact.
  • A smooth transition with no disruption to registrants, registrars and re-sellers is an absolute priority of all concerned.
  • auDA would not have made the decision to change unless there were clear benefits in doing so. There will no doubt be some more official comms on this in the near future.
  • As someone who has been a vocal critic of auDA’s lack of transparency, communication and process in the past, I have nothing but praise for the RTP process. If there is one person you would have wanted to properly oversee this enormous project, it is Bruce Tonkin. He is an absolute straight-shooter, and there is not a political bone in his body.


Given that I’ve only been an auDA Director for “5 minutes”, the following comments are definitely made in my personal capacity.

In all my history as a domain investor in Australia (since early 2000’s), I have never known anyone else but AusRegistry as the registry operator. Overall, I believe they did a fantastic job, and they should be commended for this. No one that I know has ever complained about their service reliability. In my brief stint as a Registrar, the service and back-up support I received from management and staff at AusRegistry was top notch. I sincerely thank them for their service to the .au namespace.

In Conclusion

Having been a member of the 2012 Industry Advisory Panel, it was decided then that come what may, there would have to be a competitive Request for Tender process for the registry contract in 2017. The market needed to be tested for price and service levels. The RTP is a culmination of this decision made back then.

Whilst there may not have been a lot of operators in the past keen to take on the .au registry contract, this year proved the opposite. The auDA RTP received worldwide responses, and there were three “finalists” selected. Ultimately, a proper process (independently audited for competitiveness and probity every step of the way) was followed to arrive at the Afilias decision.

Ned O’Meara – 19th December 2017


9 thoughts on “auDA Awards Registry Contract To Afilias

  • December 19, 2017 at 12:54 pm

    I think this is a big tick for AUDA, Cameron Boardman, Bruce Tonkin. A tender is something that has been called for for many years so well done to AUDA on following through with it.

    Now let’s hope domain registrants get a decent price reduction as a result of this tender.

    Anonymous likes this.
    • December 26, 2017 at 10:40 pm

      Snoopy wrote “Now let’s hope domain registrants get a decent price reduction as a result of this tender.”

      If auDA and its successive Boards had followed the policy recommendations at 2.3.18 in the Competition Model Advisory Panel’s Final Report: Competition Model .au Domain Space, June 2001, there should have been substantial and sustained real reductions in domain name licence prices paid by registrants over the last 15 years; that is, reductions after adjustment for inflation.*

      The Panel’s recommendations were:

      “2.3.18 The Panel recommends that auDA ensure that the registry licence agreement allows auDA to adjust the fees charged by the registry operator to registrars taking into account such factors as inflation (eg. consumer price index (CPI)), expected productivity gains (CPI – x, where x>0), risk adjustment, rate of return on registrar investment, and/or the number of domain names under management. The Panel also recommends that the terms of the registry licence agreement enable auDA to vary the licence fees and per domain name levy, in accordance with the auDA budget as agreed in an open, publicly accountable process.”

      At the 2001 AGM, I asked the auDA Board directors whether they had considered implementing the Competition Model Advisory Panel’s policy recommendations (2.3.18) notably ‘CPI-X price cap’ regulation of registry prices as recommended in the Panel’s Final Report.

      Responses of auDA Board directors at the AGM indicated they did not know about the ‘CPI-X price cap’ recommendation. I was left with the impression that they had little, if any, understanding of the concept and importance of ‘CPI-X price cap’ regulation of monopoly registry services.

      I explained that ‘CPI-X price cap’ regulation should ensure real reductions in registry prices on a year-on-year basis, with the price cap simulating price competition in the provision of the monopoly registry services. I mentioned that I had been involved with the formulation and implementation of price cap regulation of monopoly telecommunications services for a number of years prior to becoming a member of the Panel in 2000.

      The ACCC has a wealth of economic regulatory experience with CPI-X regimes in relation to telecommunications, airports, pipelines and other industry services.

      The ACCC is the appropriate regulator to undertake economic regulation of .au domain monopoly registry services and infrastructure.

      Ian Johnston


      * In practical terms, for example, if the CPI was 3% per annum, and X was set at 6%, real wholesale prices would have been regulated to fall by 3% per annum (CPI-X), where CPI is the Consumer Price Index and X is a policy lever.

      Anonymous likes this.
  • December 19, 2017 at 1:37 pm

    About time there was a tender. Let’s now all see the benefits.


    3 people like this.
  • December 19, 2017 at 3:03 pm

    Interesting auDA rushed this through as The Commonwealth government is reviewing auDA’s continued management of the .au namespace.

    We may still see new organisations take over management of the .au namespace and the wholesale registry role or it may go in house to the Commonwealth and DoCA.



    Anonymous likes this.
    • December 19, 2017 at 5:46 pm

      @Sean – whilst occasionally you come up with some nuggets of information, sometimes your comments are just so far off the mark.

      auDA did not rush this through. Look at the timetable on the RTP page.

      Anonymous likes this.
  • December 20, 2017 at 8:00 pm

    auDA, specifically Cameron,  loves to quote the Industry Panel in 2012 as the reason for the tender. Fair enough. How come they pick and choose the outcomes of that Panel. It ALSO stated the contract should be for a minimum of 8 years. Why is it only 4?

    Yet another example of manipulation of facts.

    • December 22, 2017 at 9:36 am

      Pretty sure I read the contract included an option to extend.

  • December 22, 2017 at 11:53 am

    It really is a punch in the face for those that backed the exclusive negotiations with Ausregistry earlier in the year. Those that insisted that there was some major benefit as a reason for it.

    There should be no kudos to auDA for going to a tender at long last, they were dragged screaming and kicking to it.


Comments are closed.