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The domain .cat continues to be an exception

The puntCAT Foundation attended the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers’ (ICANN) meeting in Cartagena, Colombia last week. Proposals for similar domains such as ‘.scot’ and .quebec’ were put aside for future discussion.


21 December 2010 11:14 PM


ACN / Jordi Pueyo

Sant Cugat del Vallès (ACN).- 5 years after its approval, the domain .cat remains the only Internet domain dedicated to a nationless state. It is one of 20 domain names existent throughout the world, including the popular \\u2019 and \\u2019. Proposals for new domains such as \\u2019 and \\u2019 have been put aside. The puntCAT Foundation attended a meeting for the organisation that approves the domains, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), in Cartagena, Colombia. The director of the puntCAT Foundation, Jordi Iparraguirre, explained that the process to standardise new domains has been difficult.

5 years ago, the puntCAT Foundation registered the domain \\u2019, dedicated to the cultural and linguistic Catalan community. It became the only nationless state included in the list of domains. There are state domains such as '.es', '.uk' or '.cn', but also generic domains, regarding types of organisations or activities, such as '.edu', '.gov' or '.org'.

All entities that wish to create a new domain must have it approved by ICANN and surrounding organisations such as the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO), the sort of Internet parliament.

ICANN met last week in Cartegena, Colombia to discuss proposals for new domain names. The organisation put aside proposals for similar domains to \\u2019, such as \\u2019 and \\u2019. At the European level, the domains are part of the European Cultural and Linguistic Internet Domains Associations, an organisation that is promoting future domains such as .bzh (Brittany), .cym (Wales), .eus (Basque), .gal (Galician) and .scot (Scotland).

In addition to these domains, other proposed domains are dedicated to various themes or companies, such as '.family', '.gay', or '.orange'.

Objection from the United States

The main reason that many proposed domain names have been put aside is because of objection from the United States. The US believes that ICANN has not fully examined the economic effects that an increase in generic domains could have. At the meeting in Cartegena, the organisation created a committee comprised of representatives from 100 governments around the world to examine the over 500 proposals from cities, communities and brands that want their own Internet domains.

What do you think of puntCAT?

\u201CWe want a process that serves to define any domain\u2026but defining a process that is valid for everyone is not simple\u201D, said Iparraguirre. According to him, this is not the best option because it \u201Ccomplicates life\u201D. He believes that domains like .cat could be approved both quickly and easily.

Catalan as a world referent

The .cat domain remains a referent for the many communities that strive for their own domains. Iparraguirre explained the importance of \u201Cstrategic support\u201D and \u201Ccollaboration agreements\u201D for these communities. He also explained that many of the domain candidates have not been formally presented to ICANN because they have not opened the process yet. He stated that many of the communities have spent a lot of time working on the project, in some cases with considerable capital invested.

Much more expensive than it was 5 years ago

Iparraguirre also explained that requesting a domain is much more expensive than it was 5 years ago. ICANN asks for 185,000 dollars to just examine the proposal. The puntCAT domain paid between 30,000 and 40,000 dollars just 5 years ago.

The director of puntCAT questioned if non-profits and communities should have to pay the same amount as brands that are seeking domains for profit motives.
In addition to economic concerns, there are also cases where two different communities want the same domain name. According to Iparraguirre, organising an auction could be a solution. However, not all of the present bodies ruling the Internet (domain promoters, domain registration companies and internauts) agree on this solution.

Other reluctances

\u201CThere are many interests at stake\u201D, said Iparraguirre. He explained that \u201Cthere are people that think a new domain will make a lot of money\u2026and others that see the danger this represents\u201D. According to Iparraguirre, it must also be taken into account that domains could fail due to lack of use.

Too many domains could be hard for people to remember, making people rely more on search engines to find pages.

More than 46,000 .cat registered domains

What is clear is that, currently, there is not any other domain like \\u2019. The domain is dedicated to the Catalan community and surpasses other global domains like \\u2019 (for travel businesses) and \\u2019.

Iparraguirre said the ICANN \u201Cdid not expect so much success from .cat\u201D. In 5 years, the .cat domain includes over 46,000 registered domains.


  • Jordi Iparraguirre, director of the puntCAT Foundation (by J. Pueyo)

  • Jordi Iparraguirre, director of the puntCAT Foundation (by J. Pueyo)