POTRAZ draft Domain Name System (DNS) framework

Valentine Muhamba Avatar
Telecoms regulation, African telecoms,

Earlier on we went over what a Domain Name System (DNS) is. That article laid out the basic structure of what DNS and now we will look at POTRAZ’s draft DNS framework.

POTRAZ issued a consultation paper in 2019 on a DNS Framework for Zimbabwe. This led to POTRAZ releasing a draft framework after the regulatory body held consultations with the public. The draft document concerns what the “.zw” ccTLD (country-code Top-Level Domain). More specifically the management, administration, registration of the ccSLD (country-code Second-Level Domains). Examples of Zimbabwe’s ccSLDs are:

  • .co.zw (which is open to the general public)
  • .ac.zw .org.zw (reserved for educational institutions)
  • .gov.zw (reserved for the government and its agencies)
  • .edu.zw (reserved for educational institutions)
  • net.zw (reserved for network service providers)
  • .org.zw (which is open to the general public)

The above are the examples of the ccSLDs that are currently available to any individual or entity that wants to register a website using Zimbabwe’s ccSLD.

Here are the highlights of the draft DNS framework issued by POTRAZ

Creating a DNS registry

POTRAZ will establish a DNS Registry, which is a database of all the domain names that are licensed under a TLD (Top-Level Domain). In the draft, POTRAZ says that it will licence a private entity as an Application Service Provider to manage to the “.zw” ccTLD. The Licensee will be referred to as ZW DNS Registry or The Registry.

Structure of ZW DNS

The examples of ccSLD that were mentioned earlier will remain:

  • .co.zw (which is open to the general public)
  • .ac.zw (reserved for educational institutions)
  • .gov.zw (reserved for the government and its agencies)
  • .edu.zw (reserved for educational institutions)
  • .net.zw (reserved for network service providers)
  • .org.zw (which is open to the general public)

The changes the document mentioned to this structure were that unlimited “.zw” domain will be open to the public at the second level (ccSLD) but at a premium. There would also be unlimited registrations of the “.co.zw”, “.org.zw” and “.net.zw”

However, “.gov.zw” will still be reserved for the government. The .ac.zw and .edu.zw domains are still reserved for the academic institutions identified by the government or an accredited registrar.

Domain name registration

Registration will follow the 3R model which is Registrant, Registrar and finally to the Registry. Domain Names will be registered through an accredited Registrar appointed by the Registry. The Registrar will require the followitng from an entity or individual applying:

  • An order placed for the registration of a Domain Name
  • All registration and service fees have been paid
  • The holder of the domain has started using the Domain Name or there has been documentation provided to the Registrar that concern a Domain Name

Registrars will register domains in the order that they are submitted and upon registration, the Domain Name is registered for a year. Although Registrars register applicants in order of the time they receive applications. Trademark owners, registered companies, and intellectual property owners get preference in the event of a conflict.

The document also says that they will combat domain parking by employing tools and means to identify parked domains and de-register them.

Upon registration, a Domain Name is renewed annually. The Domain name is also reserved for the Holder for a specific (unspecified in the document) period of time.

Rules for creating a Domain Name

A Domain Name registration has to follow ICAAN (The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) and ITEF (The Internet Engineering Task Force) regulations:

  • Domains can only have characters from a-z and 0-9
  • The maximum length for a Domain Name is 63 characters
  • A Domain Name cannot begin or end with quotation marks (“)
  • Domains must also not have to quotation marks in sequence

Prices and fees for Domain Names

The DNS draft framework says (in section 13) that the price to register a domain is agreed on between the Registrar and the Holder. Exact figures weren’t given in the document but it says that the Registry will apply for the base tariff of domain names. The Registry will also notify The Regulator (POTRAZ) of any changes in the price of Domain Names.

The DNS draft framework is open for public comments

POTRAZ’s draft DNS Policy Framework is open to the public for comments. I encourage you all to read the full document. You can find the link to do so below:

The public consultation process runs until the 31st of October 2020. To participate in the consultation process any comments and queries should be directed through the channels below:

  • Email – dns@potraz.gov.zw
  • Tel +263 242 333032
  • Toll Free: 0800 4303

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  1. Leonard

    so infact this draft DNS policy has nothing to do with DNS, but rather domain names (registration, delegation etc)

    you can trust Potraz to confuse the two

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