The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) function of ICANN, as part of the administrative tasks associated with management of the Domain Name System root zone, is responsible for receiving requests for the delegation and redelegation of top-level domains, investigating and reporting on the circumstances pertinent to those requests, and, when appropriate, implementing the redelegations.
In accordance with ICANN’s performance of these functions, IANA received a request for the redelegation of the .AE top-level domain on 31 July 2007. This domain is designated in the ISO 3166-1 standard for United Arab Emirates, a country located on the Persian Gulf with a population of four and a half million people. It is estimated that Internet is used by 31% of the population in the country†. According to RIPE NCC, as at November 2007 there are 331,953 Internet hosts in the .AE zone†.
The .AE domain was originally delegated to UUNET. Recognising the domain should be administered in country, the domain was transferred in 1995 to Etisalat, following a brief period of administration by the United Arab Emirates University. Since that time, Etisalat, through its division the UAE Network Information Center (UAEnic), has been responsible for the operation of the .AE domain. IANA has processed over 25 administrative updates to the domain in that time at the request of the operators.
In 2006, IANA first received informal enquiries relating to a potential redelegation application for the .AE domain to the United Arab Emirates Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA). In February 2007, IANA staff received further enquiries, at which time the applicant was informed of the evaluation criteria for redelegation assessment.
On 31 July 2007, IANA received a ccTLD Modification Template that constituted a full redelegation of the .AE domain to the TRA. The proposed administrative contact would be Mohammed Gheyath, the Director of Technical Affairs for the TRA. The proposed technical contact is listed as “DNS Admin” of the TRA, but no identity information is provided.
In follow up to this change template, IANA received two additional documents – a letter sent to ICANN’s Regional Liaison for the Middle East from the TRA, with a copy of a fax from Etisalat purporting to support the redelegation of the domain to the TRA; as well as an overview of the reasons for the redelegation and a description of the proposed technical operation of the domain.
Following receipt of the template, IANA undertook routine verification of the consent of the current operators for the change, as well as verification from the proposed new contacts. In addition, IANA staff reviewed the supplied documents for sufficiency in meeting the redelegation criteria.
In its review, it was determined that there is little to no documentation describing either local Internet community sentiment, nor consultations conducted with or by the local Internet community. Clarification was sought from the applicant on the level of Internet community support for the request.
In response to this specific matter, the applicant responded:
[The] TRA is acting upon the National Telecom Law of the UAE, which ensures all telecom assets are managed in the public interest. […] The .AE Domain Name is certainly represented in the public interest through the establishment of the .AE Domain Administration, .aeDA (a function of the TRA). This entity will allow for public participation through the inception of an Advisory Board made of up industry members.
As the Internet community in the UAE is undeveloped it is difficult to canvass internet users with any authority or outcome. There are only two ISPs, so a survey or study doesn't seem worthwhile nor appropriate. There is no formal ISOC chapter here within the UAE. There are no organised public interest groups. The TRA does understand the value of the input of these groups into the process however it doesn't seem feasible nor warranted given the lack or organisation and clear response they would/ could provide.
Finally it is fair to say that the TRA have gained the view of the "Internet community" by seeking and receiving the support of the current .AE delegate (UAEnic and Etisalat).
In its role as investigator of delegation and redelegation requests, IANA is guided by the practices summarized in:
“Domain Name System Structure and Delegation” (RFC 1591). This document describes IANA’s practices relating to delegations at its publication in 1994.
“Internet Domain Name System Structure and Delegation” (ICP-1). This document represents an update of the portions of RFC 1591 dealing with ccTLDs and reflects subsequent evolution of the policies followed by the IANA through May 1999.
The Governmental Advisory Committee Principles for Delegation and Administration of ccTLDs (GAC Principles). This document serves as “best practices” to guide governments in assuming proper roles with respect to the Internet's naming system.
In considering the delegation or redelegation of a ccTLD, IANA seeks input from both the requesting party as well as from persons and/or organizations that may be significantly affected by the change, particularly those within the nation or territory to which the ccTLD is designated. As noted in ICP-1, the parties affected include the relevant government or public authority: "The desires of the government of a country with regard to delegation of a ccTLD are taken very seriously. The IANA will make them a major consideration in any TLD delegation/transfer discussions."
Taking these factors into consideration, the burden of proof required to permit a delegation involves determining facts that relate to the applicant’s capacity to meet the following criteria:
In meeting these criteria, the IANA requests information from the applicant. In summary, a request template is sought specifying the exact details of the delegation being sought in the root zone. In addition, IANA asks for various documentation describing: the views of the local Internet community on a change; the competencies and skills of the organisation to operate the registry; the legal authenticity, status and character of the proposed operator; and the nature of government support for the proposal.
After receiving these documents, IANA analyses the input it has received in relation to existing zone management procedures, seeking input from parties both related to as well as independent of the applying organization should the information provided by the applicant in their request be deficient.
Once all the documentation has been received, IANA will also perform various technical checks on the proposed operator’s DNS infrastructure to ensure name servers are properly configured and are able to respond to queries for the top-level domain being requested. Should any anomalies be detected in the applicant’s technical infrastructure, IANA will work with the applicant to address the issues.
Assuming all technical issues are resolved, IANA will compile a report, providing all relevant details regarding the applicant, its suitability for operating the top-level domain being requested, and any other information pertinent to the application and submit that report to ICANN’s Board of Directors for its determination on whether to proceed with the request.
This report is being provided under the contract for performance of the IANA function between the United States Government and ICANN. Under that contract, ICANN performs the IANA function, which includes receiving delegation and redelegation requests concerning top-level domains, investigating the circumstances pertinent to those requests, and reporting on the requests.
Pertaining to the obligations described in the evaluation procedure, in summary IANA has assessed the applicant’s credentials to be as follows:
Operational and technical skills
The registry will be operated by the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, that has undertaken to create an entity known as the “.ae Domain Administration” (aeDA), which will “review all existing .AE policy in order to implement policies and practices that are reflective of world’s best practice”.
The operator is supported by AusRegistry International, a registry services vendor with previous experience in creating technical backend systems for top-level domain registries.
The applicant has provided a detailed operational and technical plan that describes the technology platform the .AE registry will be facilitated with.
Operator in country
The proposed sponsoring organisation, and substantial operations, are to be based in country.
Fair and equitable treatment
The applicant has made undertakings to IANA that registrations will be performed on a first-come first-served basis that is fair and equitable.
The applicant is an independent public authority established under Federal Decree by Law No. 3 of 2003. It is empowered to generally oversee the telecommunications sector, and specifically “telecom assets”.
In its supporting documentation, the applicant has stated that “the Internet community is underdeveloped”, and therefore “it is difficult to canvass Internet users with any authority or outcome. There are only two ISPs, so a survey or study doesn’t seem worthwhile or appropriate. There are no organized public interest groups. The TRA does understand the value of the input of these groups into the process, however it doesn’t seem feasible nor warranted given the lack [of] organisation and clear response they would or could provide.”
According to RFC 1591 and ICP-1, IANA needs to respect the ability for a local Internet community as well as local law and local government to make decisions about the operation of a TLD.
In its research, IANA believes that there are grounds for reassignment of the domain name under the relevant criteria.
IANA therefore concludes that the .AE domain should be redelegated to the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority as per their request.
On 23 January 2008 the Board of ICANN passed the following resolution:
Whereas, the .AE top-level domain is the designated country-code for the United Arab Emirates.
Whereas, ICANN has received a request for redelegation of .AE to the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority.
Whereas, ICANN has reviewed the request, and has determined that the proposed redelegation would be in the best interest of the local and global Internet communities.
It is hereby resolved (2008.01.09), that the proposed redelegation of the .AE domain to the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority is approved.