Shorter Australian Domain Names – What You Need to Know

May 8, 2019

Emma Emma Gerring

.au Shorter Australian Domain Name suffixes

A major change is looming on the Australian digital horizon. For the first time, it’ll be possible to buy shorter Australian domain names, ones with just a .au suffix. Right now, eligible entities have been restricted to acquiring only second-level domain suffixes, such as .com.au. But what is behind this change, and why now?

Continued Growth

In 1986, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority allowed the University of Melbourne to administer the .au top-level domain. The university also introduced several second-level domain structures, including .com.au for registered commercial entities.

As the Internet grew, the scale of such an operation became too large to handle. So, the university outsourced domain assignment and rolled into the Australian Domain Name Administration, or ADNA for short.

Eventually, officials rebranded as .au Domain Administration (auDA) and the worldwide root domain administration, ICANN also recognised the body.

auDA gradually introduced open second-level domains, including .org.au for non-commercial organisations, political parties, charities and nonprofits.

The administration followed up with closed second-level domains like .gov.au (for federal, state and territory entities). They added geographical second-level domains in 2006, for individual states and territories.

Over the years, auDA has registered over 3 million .com.au domains.

Need for Change

However, since 2015 certain commercial organisations have been arguing for simplification, and a basic .au address structure.

Some business owners are unhappy with this as they feel that the move is an additional tax on business.

They worry about marketing and think they may not get access to an equivalent .au domain, to match their current and specific .com.au web address. Organisations think this policy may cost them money from a branding perspective, as they transition their company over to a new website name. They also feel this could cause confusion in the marketplace.

Challenges

Business owners also want to know what will happen if there is some dispute over a “similar” web address, once auDA reveals the new .au structure. They wonder how much it will cost them to fight their corner in court should they need to.

Likely Outcome

It seems likely that the strong rules imposed by the regulators will help to govern registration.

For example, those who seek to register a domain name would need to provide evidence of eligibility. They would also face controls related to permissible names.

auDA would give preference to those who already own an existing or similar, second-level domain and restrict access to Australian entities.

AuDA continues to consult with the business community as these plans unfold. Itomic is attending (at least) one of the workshops as an industry representative. AuDa’s information campaign about shorter Australian domain names can be found here: shorternames.com.au.

Precedent

Around the world, the top-level domain (TLD) structure continues to evolve and change.

Shorter, more memorable or more logical solutions help to make the domain name as catchy and as easy to remember as possible.

For example, you can already register your company name with a “.florist” or “.guru” domain ending, to match your profession or line of business.

Many people believe that the shorter the domain name, the better from a recognition point of view and from a marketing perspective.

Domain names registered under the new .au system could be shorter, more memorable and more appealing.

Taking Action

The wholesale price of .au domain names has not yet been determined, much less the retail price. Retailers like Itomic are free to set their own prices, so expect retail pricing to be broadly in line with whatever your retailer normally charges.

Itomic has been managing domains for more than 20 years. We can assist you during your move from an old domain name to a shiny new one. Contact us today.

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