NOIE receives ultimatum from Christmas Island

Residents have sent an ultimatum to the National Office for the Information Economy demanding action. NOIE is seen as the villain in a year-long deadlock that has prevented it from cashing in on the opportunity to run the registry for the Christmas Island country code top-level domain.

The ultimatum calls on NOIE to counter perceptions that it is hindering Christmas Island's efforts to enter the information economy. Using the internet currently costs $10 an hour for residents of the Australian-owned territory in the Indian Ocean a few hundred miles from Indonesia. They'd like to bring the price down by subsidising it with revenues earned from selling .cx domain names. But attempts to re-delegate the registry rights to a Dot CX, a non-profit company formed by islanders, have been blocked for more than year.

The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority won't act on the re-delegation request because NOIE's approval has not been forthcoming. A breakthrough was expected after the issue publicly surfaced at the mid-March board meeting of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers in Melbourne.

The constituency of country code top-level domain managers issued a formal communiqué to the board expressing concern about the situation. However, continued inaction has prompted Dot CX chairman Alan Fealy to send a letter of ultimatum to NOIE's general manager, regulatory and access, Tom Dale.

The letter calls for a "formal, substantive response" on the issue by close of business on Friday. "This would dispel the view that NOIE is hindering rather than assisting the Christmas Island community in its effort to participate in the information economy," the letter states.

NOIE's reservations about the re-delegation are largely a matter for speculation. "They have never told us clearly what the problem is," claims Fealy. NOIE's Dale declined two requests for an interview.

NOIE reportedly offered to drop its veto if Dot CX directors would waive their rights to appeal against any future arrangements the federal government might want to make for the registry. Dot CX directors argue that that would contravene their responsibilities to shareholders under Australian corporate law.

The uncertainty over registry rights is undermining the stability of the .cx domain and makes it difficult for Dot CX to enter into legally binding contracts with domain name registrars, says Garth Miller, an advisor to Dot CX.

In the absence of a formal agreement by NOIE to the transfer of registry rights, Fealy has proposed an exchange of interim letters, stating that negotiations between the two sides are underway. While not a permanent solution, it might clear away enough doubt to permit Dot CX to ramp up its marketing efforts.

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