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The SAMENA Council, in partnership with ictQatar and ICANN, issued its position statement on “DOMAIN NAMES INDUSTRY AS NEW REVENUE STREAM FOR TELCOS – QATAR SHOWCASE”.
According to SAMENA, the region currently has over 178.5 million broadband users, representing 7.44% of the total global broadband market. Broadband penetration is rising strongly in this region, with an existing penetration of around 26.9%. This exponential growth in broadband provides a solid foundation on which the Domain name industry can be built that is supported by the expansion of eCommerce and services within the region.
From an existing regional standpoint, the domain name industry has a lot of potential for growth. The region has over 650,000 domain name registrations under ccTLDs (Country Code Top Level Domains) but this represent only 0.63% of global ccTLD registrations. The region's 25 nations have a total of only six ICANN (The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) accredited registrars, of which five are located within the 22 Arab countries.
With the advent of the new gTLDs, telecom operators in the SAMENA region should come up with new strategies highlighting the potential that exist in the domain name industry. This potential, however, has to be projected more at the consumer level to get the maximum benefit out of it. Telecom operators need to consider how they will integrate the new gTLDs into their business strategy and get the maximum benefit out of the industry.
Dr. Mustafa Aykut, SAMENA Council Policy Board Chairman said: “Given the inherent potential of the domain name industry in the region, SAMENA Council will actively work with telecom operators, internet service providers and regulatory bodies to encourage collaboration between the Council and ICANN. Together, we can develop relevant capacity, resources and internet infrastructure to tackle the needs of the region. We will also help in building knowledge and raising awareness regarding the pre-requisites to becoming an ICANN accredited registrar. This will help the private sector exploit the potential new revenue streams that arise from the domain name industry.”
There have been few examples of regional markets playing active roles in the regional domain name industry. ictQatar, for example has entered the domain name space in 2011 by launching قطر. IDN ccTLD as well as managing .QA ccTLD which are now being used extensively by government entities, companies, registered trademarks, Intellectual property holders and individuals. Qatar was amongst the first countries, right after Egypt, KSA and UAE, to approach ICANN to delegate a non-Latin Arabic top-level domain.
Saleh Al-Kuwari, Deputy Assistant Secretary General, Regulatory Authority Technical, ictQatar said: “After the launch of Qatar Domains Registry, we have been consistently making efforts in creating a healthy and competitive environment for the adoption of Qatar’s ccTLD. Opening up of the Registrar Accreditation opportunity to strategically identified regional and international businesses, including Telecom Operators and Web Technology Service Providers, continues to be a part of this effort. With advancement in the awareness of domain names in the region, we observed a significant shift in approach of telecom operators towards their Registrar business. It has led them to more investments, in allied technology and resources, allocated to the domain names business. Although telecom services remain their primary focus, they are becoming increasingly aware of the threat of losing out to competition posed by global players with the ever-increasing internet penetration in the region. All regional players are now compelled to reconsider their strategy in order to bring Internet services including domain names to the center stage instead of regarding them as just another value added service. The proliferation of internet will eventually bring about dramatic changes in the market dynamics in this segment.”
ICANN’s growing support and interest in the regional markets, especially with the introduction of the new gTLDs (Generic Top Level Domains) program, has been highly appreciated. The Corporation has been working actively on fostering two-way engagement with the broader Internet community, building strong and competitive domain name industry in the region and promoting multi-stakeholder Internet governance mechanisms.
Baher Esmat, ICANN - VP Stakeholder Engagement - Middle East said: “ICANN’s presence in the Middle East underlines the domain name industry as an important area of focus. This is an industry that is rapidly evolving and transforming as hundreds of new top-level domains prepare to be introduced into the Domain Name System. We greatly appreciate SAMENA’s efforts in raising awareness among its membership on the opportunities that the domain name industry can bring to the region, and we look forward to working together in the future.”