According to a statement issued yesterday by Melbourne IT, the registrar paid federal domain registration overseer .au Domain Administration (auDA) $659,000 in exchange for the exclusive rights to issue .com.au domain name registrations until October 2001, when Melbourne IT's current licence runs out.auDA is a not-for-profit organisation that has ACCC representation on its two advisory panels: the Competition Model advisory panel and the Name Policy advisory panel.
The payout amounts to around 80 per cent of auDA's annual budget, the statement read.auDA acting CEO Mark Hughes said that the ACCC had been "heavily involved" in auDA's decision to accept the Melbourne IT payout.
He admitted that Melbourne IT's existing 80 per cent market share of all .au domains would remain unchallenged until October 2001 as a result of the deal, but he pointed out that registrations of all "second-tier" domain names (.gov.au, .net.au and .org.au) were also conducted through monopoly players.
He said competition would not enter the domain name registration industry until mid-2001, when the Competition Model advisory panel is expected to complete its review of domain allocation regulations in Australia. The Melbourne IT payout will fund the development of this review, auDA said.
Meanwhile, federal IT minister Richard Alston issued a statement applauding the step towards industry self-regulation that is implicit in the Melbourne IT payout.
The auDA competition and name policy reviews are already underway.