With the new shared registry system (SRS) well under way, around 20 registrars have already signed up to the new system with a further 10 authorised and waiting to attach to the SRS proper.
The SRS was introduced by InternetNZ to replace the domain name system designed for Domainz, InternetNZ's wholly-owned registrar. However technical problems and a change in policy voted for by the members of InternetNZ meant a new system was built that would allow any number of registrars to deal directly with the register itself. This shared system will mean InternetNZ will eventually sell off Domainz as a separate competing registrar. For now, however, Domainz has the contract as stabilising registrar, which means it has all those registrants on its books who have yet to chose a registrar.
The list of registrars has impressed one long-time observer of the domain name industry, Steven Heath. Heath, a former InternetNZ councillor and treasurer, is delighted to see such a range in pricing available from registrars.
"I think it's a reflection of the clients they normally deal with. For instance Xtra, which charges $14 a month, has customers who say 'who gives a toss?'."
Those customers, say Heath, are willing to pay that amount spread out monthly because that's where all their telco business lies.
"They effectively register it on a monthly basis and if you don't pay they pull it."
Heath says the new registry's payment system is such that New Zealand users won't be caught out by a registrar's collapse, as happened in Australia.
"If you collect money from the registrant for 10 years you shall pay the registry for 10 years. Your billing method to your client must be at least the same as to the registry if not more."
Users who have paid for a two-year registration won't be left out of pocket by a registrar who has taken the money, but only listed the name with the register for one month.
"We've gone from Domainz where you could have any billing model you want so long as it's monthly to [one where] you can literally have any billing model you want so long as it's no more than 120 months."
One registrant that hasn't made the move to the new registry model, preferring to stick with the stabilising registrar Domainz, is the government.
The State Services Commission looks after the .govt.nz second level domain (2LD) and has remained with Domainz rather than opening up to any other registrar.
Mark Harris is the moderator for the .govt.nz domain on behalf of the SSC and he says the reason is simply one of security.
"There is no technical block to anyone registering a .govt.nz name under the SRS."
The .govt.nz 2LD is a moderated one, meaning only government agencies are allowed to use names in that space. Harris looks after the central government names while Mike Mason at Palmerston North District Council takes care of the local government names.
Brendan Kelly, spokesman for the SSC's e-government unit, says the SSC is considering three options for the future of the .govt.nz 2LD.
"Firstly, we would allow multiple registrars and simply build relationships with them. Secondly, we would contract a single registrar and require all applications to go through them. Thirdly, we would build our own."
Kelly says current thinking is that allowing multiple registrars would pose too high a risk and that either of the latter options would be of preference. Kelly hopes to have the issue sorted out by the end of Domainz's role as stabilising registrar.