Report on the Redelegation of the .BW domain representing Botswana to Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority
8 August 2013
This report is being provided under the contract for performance of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) function between the United States Government and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). Under that contract, ICANN performs the “IANA functions”, which include receiving delegation and redelegation requests concerning TLDs, investigating the circumstances pertinent to those requests, making its recommendations, and reporting actions undertaken in connection with processing such requests.
The “BW” ISO 3166-1 code is designated for use to represent Botswana.
Chronology of events
The currently designated manager for the .BW domain is the University of Botswana, as described in the IANA Root Zone Database. Since 1996, the de-facto manager of the domain has been the Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC).
In July 2006, a stakeholder workshop was held in Gaborone. Key stakeholders from the government, business and Internet industries attended. Several issues were discussed, including selecting a new manager for the .BW country-code top-level domain. It was agreed that a special task force consisting of representatives of all the stakeholders called the “Technical Advisory Committee” (TAC) would be formed to work on improving the systems used in .BW management as well as on selection of the new registry operator.
On 20 December 1996, the Botswana Telecommunications Authority (BTA) was established as a statutory body in accordance with the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The BTA was mandated to supervise and promote the provision of efficient telecommunications services in Botswana.
On 3 June 2009, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Communications, Science and Technology (which has since become the Ministry of Transport and Communications) sent a letter to BTA approving the transfer of the .BW management from BTC to BTA.
In April 2010, the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) was formed. It held its first meeting shortly after.
In summer 2011, a memorandum of agreement for the “interim management and administration of the .BW domain” between BTA and BTC was signed. A transitional period of two years was arranged for BTC to continue being responsible for the technical operations of .BW while BTA’s personnel was getting an appropriate training so they could take over operations of the domain in the future.
On 13 June 2012, the BTA commenced a request to ICANN for the redelegation of .BW. During the next several months ICANN Staff worked with applicants on clarifying the proposed changes and collecting the supporting documentation.
On 16 November 2012, a new request was lodged with ICANN by BTC asking to process only technical changes for .BW in parallel with the existing request. In the next several weeks, ICANN Staff was clarifying the proposed changes with all the involved parties. As a result, the second request was withdrawn.
In December 2012, BTA established registry operations and informally transitioned operation of the .BW registry.
On 1 April 2013, the BTA was transformed into a new organisation, the Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA). All of BTA’s assets and liabilities were transferred to BOCRA. This transition happened in accordance with the Communications Regulatory Authority Act of 2012.
In order to reflect a new entity as the proposed new sponsoring organisation for .BW a new request was lodged on 16 April 2013. Applicant subsequently made further updates to the proposed changes.
Proposed Sponsoring Organization and Contacts
The proposed sponsoring organisation is the Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority established on 1 April 2013 in accordance with the Communications Regulatory Authority Act No. 19 of 2012. Following this legislation, the Authority “shall maintain and manage a central numbering and domain names database system.”
The proposed administrative and technical contact is Moakofi Kamanga, Senior Engineer ccTLD of BOCRA. The administrative contact is understood to be based in Botswana.
Evaluation of the Request
The top-level domain is eligible for continued delegation under ICANN policy, as it is the assigned ISO 3166-1 two-letter code representing Botswana.
The government support for the application was provided in a letter from the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services, the Ministry of Transport and Communications and the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Communications, Science and Technology.
Additional support was provided in communications from the University of Botswana, Botswana Information Technology Society (BITS), Botswana Internet Service Providers Association (BISPA) and Telnet Solutions (Pty) Ltd.
The proposed sponsoring organisation undertakes to operate the domain in a fair and equitable manner.
Based in country
The proposed sponsoring organization is constituted in Botswana. The proposed administrative contact is understood to be resident in Botswana. The registry is to be operated in the country.
The request is deemed uncontested, with the current sponsoring organisation consenting to the transfer.
The applicant has provided satisfactory details on the technical and operational infrastructure and expertise that will be used to operate the domain. The proposed operator has been effectively operating the domain since December 2012.
Proposed policies for management of the domain have also been tendered.
ICANN is tasked with coordinating the Domain Name System root zone as part of a set of functions governed by a contract with the U.S. Government. This includes accepting and evaluating requests for delegation and redelegation of top-level domains.
A subset of top-level domains are designated for the local Internet communities in countries to operate in a way that best suits their local needs. These are known as country-code top-level domains (ccTLDs), and are assigned by ICANN to responsible trustees (known as “Sponsoring Organisations”) that meet a number of public-interest criteria for eligibility. These criteria largely relate to the level of support the trustee has from its local Internet community, its capacity to ensure stable operation of the domain, and its applicability under any relevant local laws.
Through ICANN’s IANA department, requests are received for delegating new ccTLDs, and redelegating or revoking existing ccTLDs. An investigation is performed on the circumstances pertinent to those requests, and, when appropriate, the requests are implemented and a recommendation for delegation or redelegation is made to the U.S. National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).
Purpose of evaluations
The evaluation of eligibility for ccTLDs, and of evaluating responsible trustees charged with operating them, is guided by a number of principles. The objective of the assessment is that the action enhances the secure and stable operation of the Internet’s unique identifier systems.
In considering requests to delegate or redelegate ccTLDs, input is sought regarding the proposed new Sponsoring Organisation, as well as from persons and organisations that may be significantly affected by the change, particularly those within the nation or territory to which the ccTLD is designated.
The assessment is focussed on the capacity for the proposed sponsoring organisation to meet the following criteria:
- The domain should be operated within the country, including having its sponsoring organisation and administrative contact based in the country.
- The domain should be operated in a way that is fair and equitable to all groups in the local Internet community.
- Significantly interested parties in the domain should agree that the prospective trustee is the appropriate party to be responsible for the domain, with the desires of the national government taken very seriously.
- The domain must be operated competently, both technically and operationally. Management of the domain should adhere to relevant technical standards and community best practices.
- Risks to the stability of the Internet addressing system must be adequately considered and addressed, particularly with regard to how existing identifiers will continue to function.
Method of evaluation
To assess these criteria, information is requested from the applicant regarding the proposed sponsoring organisation and method of operation. In summary, a request template is sought specifying the exact details of the delegation being sought in the root zone. In addition, various documentation is sought describing: the views of the local internet community on the application; the competencies and skills of the trustee to operate the domain; the legal authenticity, status and character of the proposed trustee; and the nature of government support fort he proposal. The view of any current trustee is obtained, and in the event of a redelegation, the transfer plan from the previous sponsoring organisation to the new sponsoring organisation is also assessed with a view to ensuring ongoing stable operation of the domain.
After receiving this documentation and input, it is analysed in relation to existing root zone management procedures, seeking input from parties both related to as well as independent of the proposed sponsoring organisation should the information provided in the original application be deficient. The applicant is given the opportunity to cure any deficiencies before a final assessment is made.
Once all the documentation has been received, various technical checks are performed on the proposed sponsoring organisation’s DNS infrastructure to ensure name servers are properly configured and are able to respond to queries correctly. Should any anomalies be detected, ICANN staff will work with the applicant to address the issues.
Assuming all issues are resolved, an assessment is compiled providing all relevant details regarding the proposed sponsoring organisation and its suitability to operate the relevant top-level domain.