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Story Behind .ASIA

After releasing .travel and .jobs (hey, steve.jobs up for bidding!), ICANN said they will look at .xxx and .asia next. (via Chiao)

“Vint Cerf: ...of those, we have had fairly extensive discussion about .asia and .xxx. We continue to evaluate those. The others will be attended to as we can get to them. But i want to say for the record that we will attempt within the next 30 days to come to a conclusion one way or the other about .asia and .xxx so these will be on a board call sometime within that period.”

Chiao called .ASIA “more or less like a joint venture among APxx organizations”. I say nonsense! Don’t let appearance fool you.

The main person driving .ASIA is Cheng Che-Hoo (Hong Kong). Che-Hoo has a lot of respect and friends in the Asia Internet community being former CEO of HKNIC, former executive in Level3 Asia, board of APNIC etc. But what most people don’t see is that the whole exercise is underwritten by Afilias, including the ICANN bidding fee and most of the expenses incurred. In other words, Afilias is trying to repeat their success with .ORG with .ASIA. (which btw, I highly doubt would be a commercial success being a sTLD).

But didn’t .ASIA have a lot of APxx supporting it? Well, yes. As I said, Che-Hoo is well respected here and many initial NICs who joined .ASIA are really giving Che-Hoo their support and not so much .ASIA per say. I know at least one NIC who got into some trouble after they signed the letter of support without their board approval; That’s how far people will go for Che-Hoo.

But subsequently, the tactic to get support is, hmm, how should I put this? Maybe let me describe how it works: .ASIA deal with the NICs is that if you support .ASIA, when registration comes from your region, we will split the revenue of that registration with you. One way to look at it is ‘hey, profit sharing with the NIC! Good guy!’. But another way to look at this is “If I don’t support them now, I don’t get anything if someone from my region registered with .ASIA”.

So in other words, a perfect manipulation in Game Theory - the NIC is put in a position where they cannot afford not to support it.

I admire Che-Hoo dedication and I marvel the tactic they used. But no, I strongly disagree .ASIA is a “joint venture” or “partnership” of Asia Pacific organization. Especially one that NICs join because they don’t have a choice and a mastermind by someone outside the region.

.ASIA? Yes, let’s do it really from Asia. And let’s do it properly and not play games.

ps: Let me state outright : This is not about anti-Afilias. My position on .ASIA has not changed since beginning of last year.

By James Seng, Vice President

Filed Under


fnord  –  Apr 12, 2005 6:14 PM

Further muddlement of the TLD namespace thanks to the ever inept (but always money-hungry) ICANN. .eu is finally slouching towards Brussels waiting to be born, and now we (may) have .asia, which isn’t on the ISO 3166-1 alpha 2 list, or (like .eu) the reserved list, or even the ISO 3166-3 list. What’s next, .noram for North America? Just more end user confusion. -g

Che-Hoo CHENG  –  Apr 14, 2005 12:54 PM

Before jumping to conclusions, I urge everybody to visit our website at www.dotasia.org to take a look at our materials including our well-thought out proposal to ICANN and have a sense of the level and variety of support that we have obtained from our community (see http://www.dotasia.org/about/members.html & http://www.dotasia.org/about/initialboard.html)

Maybe let me give you a little bit of background information of our .ASIA initiative first.  Prof. Kilnam Chon of Korea (one of the Internet pioneers in Asia) initiated the idea of .AP several years ago, laying the seeds of the initiative already.  From early 2003, the current team adjusted the idea to .ASIA as a Sponsored gTLD based on a bottom-up approach.  Initial responses were very positive and when ICANN issued the RFP for sTLDs in December 2003, the initiative began to formalize and take shape.

When the proposal was submitted to ICANN in mid March 2004, 7 ccTLDs (.CN, .ID, .JP, .MO, .NU, .TW and .VN) as well as APNIC and APNG already participated as members.  Since then, recruitment of members continued, and as of now, there are already 20 participating ccTLDs (including .KZ, .TJ & .UZ from Central Asia, .AF, .BT, .IN & .IR from South Asia, .KH, .PH & .SG from South-East Asia, .KR & .MN from East Asia and .NZ from Pacific) plus APNIC, APNG and PAN/IDRC.  The initiative will continue to welcome and recruit members even after it obtains approval from ICANN, and eligible organisations in the region can join at their own pace and become equal members. 

Upon the establishment of the initial board and initial advisory council by well-respected individuals from different areas of our community (see http://www.dotasia.org/about/initialboard.html), all are actively updated and involved, along with members and potential members, in the activities of .ASIA.

It is worth to note that Afilias? involvement as a registry services and technology provider is well defined and well understood, and it does not and will not interfere with policy formulation functions of the .ASIA registry.

Our members and supporters share the dream of having our own Asia-focus TLD.  And, we want to leverage and bring together the collaborative spirit of the Internet community in Asia to further the continued growth in and around the region.  So, .ASIA is indeed an initiative of our community.

I hope that it is much clearer to everybody now.

Thanks a lot.


For and on behalf of
Initial Board and Initial Advisory Council
DotAsia Organisation Limited

James Seng  –  Apr 15, 2005 3:58 AM

Che-Hoo, why not tell the rest of the story too?

Like who spoke to you back in the late 2003 to get you to start working on this? Or who paid for all the trip to all the one-on-one meeting with the NICs? Or who has always been on your side for every meeting on .ASIA?

As I said, .ASIA? By all means - but do it really from Asia and don’t play games. Don’t play manuipulation tricks to get support and most importantly, dont make use of the communtiy good-will and hide a commercial operation behind it. That’s what irks me most.

A good corp. governance means you don’t pick operators first, then put the community around it. You do it the other way, form the communty and call for a public tender to invite all others who might be able to give you the service on a best-value-of-money. You already started off in the wrong foot.

James Seng  –  Apr 15, 2005 4:10 AM

Che-Hoo, maybe you cant answer those behind-the-scene question so let me asked you a few open one:

1. Have you spoken to any other alt. registry operators? Say Neustar or Verisign? Have you check with them what they offering? Have any evaluation been done to ensure you are getting the best value for money for the communty?

If not, why not, and if so is that appropriate? If yes, what’s the conclusion to give it to Afilias, and if so, whats their role in the formation of .ASIA?

2. Have you spoken to any governments in the region? Have you gotten any endorsement from any government agency other then NICs who are part/wholly government?

If not, why not, and if so is that apppropriate? If yes, whats their response, and if so, why have you not reveal it to public?

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