It is practically impossible for local companies to register using .gy domain on the Internet

Stabroek News
October 2, 2001

Dear Editor,

I write this letter in an effort to bring to light what is surely an unacceptable state of affairs.

A domain name is what your company or organization is called on the Internet ? some examples include:

* (for the Dell Computer Corporation)

* (for the Cable News Network)

* (for the State Department of the United States of America)

* (for the United Nations)

All of the examples above use what are called `World Wide Generic Domains.' We are all very familiar with the dot coms. The full list of generic domains is com, edu, net, org, int and gov.

In addition to these generic domains, every country is assigned a two-letter domain. (These two letters were taken from the ISO?3166 document.) For example:

* tt(Trinidad and Tobago)

* sr (Suriname)

* uk (United Kingdom)

* fi(Finland)

* ca (Canada)

* gy (Guyana)

These country domains allow for the easy identification of the sites (and by inference the business and organizations) which are distinctly from that particular country. This helps with the marketing of the country and its businesses and institutions and with the maintenance of distinctiveness on the cluttered Internet. So for example the British Broadcasting Corporation is found at with the 'uk' being the country domain name.

The generic domains and the two-letter country codes are known as `top-level domain names.' There is a global organization (ICANN, formerly IANA) that has overall responsibility for domain names on the Internet. At the national level, ICANN appoints an appropriate organization to manage the domain names space for the country.

Each domain has an administrative and a technical contact. The actual management of the assigning of domain names, delegating sub-domains and operating name servers must be done with technical competence. This includes keeping the central Internet Registry (in the case of top-level domains) or other higher-level domain manager advised of the status of the domain, responding to requests in a timely manner, and operating the database with accuracy, robustness, and resilience.

In the case of the .gy domain, the administrative contact is the University of Guyana while the technical contact is an individual at the University of Puerto Rico. This situation arose because of UG's inability to handle the technical aspects of the job back in 1995. The University of Puerto Rico agreed to undertake the technical aspects of the task. Such a separation of the administrative and technical contact, with the technical contact outside the country (a 'proxy' arrangement) is sometimes done as a temporary measure until someone else in the country can take over as registrar. The Sustainable Development Networking Programme (SDNP) now administers the, and sub-domains.

The University of Puerto Rico or an individual therein, still administers the .gy domain, and the, and sub-domains. This is where the frustration lies. It is practically impossible for local companies to register domain names using the .gy domain and the above mentioned sub-domains. Countless e-mails and expensive phone calls get no response. The University of Guyana, as the administrative contact, is unable to provide any assistance in this matter and sadly appears to have no control whatsoever over the technical contact. We also discovered to our alarm and further frustration that large multi?national companies like Firestone, Ariba, Walt Disney, McDonalds, Netscape, Pfizer and Goodyear have already registered their business names under the .gy domain. It is a shame when international companies with no business interests in Guyana can register their business names with impunity but local firms don't have the ability to do the same.

As stated earlier, this state of affairs is unacceptable; the top level country domain (.gy) is not the property of the University of Guyana or Puerto Rico but is held as a public trust and the administrator/registrar of this domain has a responsibility to provide an efficient registration service. If the University of Guyana does not have the technical capacity or a clear understanding of these matters then someone else should administer the domain. Given SDNP's proven track record, it might make sense in the short to medium term to let them provide the service.

It might be difficult to quantify, but it can be argued with some merit that Guyana has lost value and direct income as a nation and economy because of our inadequate Internet activity. The effective management of our Domain Name Space, therefore, has significant strategic importance for Guyana. More particularly, it has significant commercial and economic importance as it facilitates the use of the Internet for commercial activities by local businesses. We in the local Information Technology sector believe strongly that there is substantial potential for Guyana in various areas of Internet activity including the burgeoning e-commerce sector. The steps to unleashing this potential for Guyana must be taken sooner rather than later.

Yours faithfully

Lance Hinds


Information Technology Association of Guyana