The ZA Domain Name Authority (ZADNA) has launched public consultations for a possible review of the wholesale pricing structure of second-level .ZA domains. This includes co.za, org.za, net.za, and web.za.
ZADNA has asked for feedback from every South African regarding the proposed wholesale fee changes. It specifically invited ZADNA members, .ZA second-level domain registry operators, .ZA registrars, registrants (i.e. holders of domain names), the South African Internet community and the South African public to comment.
This is not the first time ZADNA has issued a request for submissions regarding a review of the wholesale fee structure of .ZA domains.
It issued a very similar request for feedback in September 2018, even using the same wording for its disclaimer about the wholesale fee review:
“It must be noted upfront that this review of the wholesale fee must not be construed to be an indication or commitment by ZADNA to change the fee upwards or downwards,” the organisation assures.
“Instead, the fee review is intended to better inform ZADNA if there should be any changes to the current EPP and co.za legacy wholesale fees and if so, what those changes should be.”
Wholesale pricing fight
There is an important difference between ZADNA’s fresh call for submissions and the previous fee review consultations. Back in 2018, a battle was raging between ZADNA and the ZA Central Registry (ZACR) over wholesale pricing.
Where ZADNA administrates the .ZA namespace, ZACR currently manages the second-level domains under .ZA on its behalf. ZACR also looks after .Joburg, .CapeTown, .Durban, and .Africa. The technical functions of managing these domain name spaces are outsourced to Domain Name Services (Pty.) Ltd.
The dispute between ZADNA and ZACR arose when the ZADNA board resolved to increase the prices it charges the ZACR for domains from R7 to R12 per year from 1 June 2016.
By the start of 2019, the matter was finally settled in favour of ZADNA. As part of the settlement, the ZACR was required to pay a portion of the money it owed ZADNA since 2016. The rest (R984,966) was written off as bad debt.
Since January 2019, ZADNA has officially been charging R12 per domain per year.
With ZACR having to pay R5 more per domain per year, and with the amount partially backdated to June 2016, a wholesale price increase in .ZA domain registrations seems likely.
However, ZADNA reiterated that a price increase is not a certainty, and gave three options:
- Increase the EPP wholesale fee for .ZA domains to R50 per year
- Keep the existing EPP wholesale fee for .ZA domains of R45 per year
- Decrease the EPP wholesale fee for .ZA domains
In addition, ZADNA has asked for feedback regarding whether the annual fee for legacy registrations should be increased, or whether the legacy system should be discontinued entirely.
Option 1: Increase the .ZA wholesale fee
ZADNA asked those who wished to respond to its call for comment on the wholesale pricing of .ZA to consider the following questions:
- Bearing in mind that the co.za wholesale fee was once R50.00, is it justifiable to increase the EPP wholesale fee from its current R45.00 taking into account the CPI changes of 21% from 2015-2019?
- If, yes, what do you think could be a reasonable increase or margin?
- What could be potential downsides or upsides to increasing the current EPP wholesale fee?
Option 2: Keep the current .ZA wholesale fee
ZADNA also asked respondents to consider the following questions:
- Taking into consideration that the wholesale fee has been the same over 6 years, do you think it justified for the EPP wholesale fee to remain the same in the 2020/21 financial year?
- If yes, why do you want the fee to remain the same?
- Could there be any other potential downsides or upsides in retaining the current EPP wholesale fee?
Option 3: Decrease the EPP wholesale fee
Regarding the third option, ZADNA asked respondents to consider the following questions:
- Do you support a decrease in the EPP wholesale fee? Please give reason/s to support your view.
- If you support the decrease in the current EPP wholesale fee, what should the decreased wholesale fee be?
- Could there be any other potential downsides or upsides in decreasing the current EPP wholesale fee?
Deadline for submissions
ZADNA asked those interested to submit their feedback, comments, and proposals no later than 30 June 2020 via the e-mail address provided in its request for submissions document. The document is embedded below.