LIA TIMSON June 14, 2012
Glenn Roscoe wants to own .physio on behalf of his fellow practitioners. Photo: Paul Sulovski
An Australian physiotherapist is attempting to take on the whole of his profession worldwide to be the one person controlling the new top-level internet domain .physio.
Applicants for the new top-level domain scheme – the largest expansion of web addresses since the internet's inception – were revealed overnight. The new addresses will make it possible for recognised brands to have their own ".brand" address eliminating the need for a .com at the end, and for associations and interest groups to own generic term addresses such as .hotels and .legal.
Speaking ahead of the reveal by the Internet Cooperation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), Perth physiotherapist and entrepreneur Glenn Ruscoe told IT Pro he thought applying for the domain was a good business opportunity.
Ruscoe has already put up $US185,000 for the one-off application fee and will need to part with $US25,000 a year to maintain registration. He will also need to pay third parties to keep the domain available around the clock and to administer registrations. If his application is successful, domain register company ARI Registry Services will handle the technology infrastructure of servers and switches, and domain registration company Melbourne IT the name. He estimates the new venture will cost him around $500,000.
"I read about the idea and I thought it was great. I thought 'I want one of those for my practice'," Ruscoe said.
If successful, Ruscoe intends to sell addresses ending in .physio to other physiotherapists in what is known as a second-level domain allocation, as in "ultimo.physio" or "carlton.sport.physio".
"I have done the sums. There are 700,000 physios in the world. I only need a percentage of those to come onboard to make it viable. I could invest in a property and get a $20,000 a year return, or I could take this risk and have 20,000 (physiotherapists) paying me $100 – that's $2 million dollars a year. It's a far better investment than property. It comes with high risk, but that's what business is like."
Ruscoe said he had official endorsement of both the Australian Physiotherapy Association and the World Confederation for Physical Therapy in his quest to own the domain.
"I thought it was unlikely an association would do this because they are quite conservative. I contacted them, they said no, but said they would endorse me. In my application [to ICANN] they provided evidence I'll be the main [domain] spokesperson for the profession. But it will be my start-up; it might end up being my main business."
The physio-entrepreneur who treats patients for about five hours each day, already has a couple of websites providing goods and services for therapists and gyms. He has set up a third, www.dotphysio.com, to explain his proposed business venture.
Ruscoe said he would work with the associations to write the policies which registration companies like Melbourne IT would use to decide whether to sell second-level domains to other physiotherapists. This would include an auditing process to decide if applicants were genuine.
Funding cancer research
Jumping on the opportunity to own its own generic term for the world is also the Australian Cancer Research Foundation which has applied for .cancerresearch.
Chief executive David Bretell said the foundation's main goal was to generate awareness for its fundraising activities in order to add to the $10 million it grants to research institutes every year.
"Our sole business is funding great cancer research in Australia. Each year we get a lot of applications for grants, from $1.5 million to $5 million each. $41.7 million was sought this year in 12 applications. We don't have $41.2 million." Brettell told IT Pro.
He said the foundation hasn't yet determined how it would use the domain if it was successful in its application, but it would certainly look at making second-level addresses available to individuals and groups for fundraising, either permanently or for short-term events.
"We have maybe 150 people who as individuals or groups we will absolutely allow to use our domain name. We're not in it for commercial purposes, only to enhance the research through additional funding. We're not in it to make money for money sake – we are a not for profit. Every dollar goes to research," he said adding the funds for the application fee were derived from a special investment account, not donations.
Webjet is another Australian party among 40 others hopeful of being successful in its application. The company has applied for .webjet in order to facilitate its business expansion worldwide.
It also hopes it will help it fight the constant attempts by others to capitalise on its name.
Webjet managing director John Guscic, said in the last 12 months it had disputes in China, South Africa and Sweden over "webjet.com.country" addresses. The company already has its trademark registered in 30 countries and a ".country" address registered in 50.
"We won every time, but we had to involve lawyers and lengthy disputes. Now we'll be able to use our brand in more creative ways like bali.webjet or hotelrooms.webjet," Guscic said.
The travel company would also allow its international joint-venture partners to have second-level domains such as us.webjet.
"I think [the internet expansion] will put a stop to cybersquatting."
But Melbourne IT chief executive Theo Hnarakis said cybersquatting attempts were expected after top-level domains were granted.
"[Cybersquatters] won't be able to apply for a .brand domain, but at the second-level we will see a significant expansion of malicious activity. Roll the clock forward 12 months and you'll have .web and .hotels available and there will be organisations wanting to register under those extensions. Here potentially there could be ten times the amount of domains and brands may not be able to register all of them."
As an example, Hnarakis said unless the Sydney Morning Herald, publisher of this website, pursued the registration of "smh.web" someone else might obtain registration from one of many domain name administrators and put up a rival publication.
"As it stand at the moment there are no safeguards in place for someone registering a second level name in a .name that infringes. We're encouraging ICANN to look into it."
He said people may also seek to register generic names only to park advertising on them, or to redirect traffic to their own websites.
During the next 60 days, anyone with an objection to the 1930 domain name applications may seek to have them declined.
Hnarakis advised businesses to study the list which ICANN will publish in coming days and "analyse whether a trademark of yours has been infringed, if there's a close connection by spelling or a business model that may potentially infringe your business model".
"Now is the time to influence it. Once this period is finished it will be very difficult to say 'I didn't know and want to object'."
Australian expertise among four world leaders
Adrian Kinderis, chief executive of domain registry provider ARI Registry Services, which worked won 161 applications by 111 global applicants for new top-level domains, said he was very pleased the company was now recognised among world internet leaders.
"We will be running the entire infrastructure [of successful applications] just like we do for .au. This is the beginning. The real work starts from today."
Kinderis said ARI was investing $10 million in IT infrastructure to support the domain expansion on behalf of clients.
The investment will cover premises, equipment and personnel to run 16 to 18 additional domain name server (DNS) nodes around the world.
"We're in the processing of leasing data centre space and will buy our own equipment. We are doing that procurement exercise as we speak, but we're chasing a moving target because we don't know how many of our clients will be successful, and they don't know when they will go live and how big they are going to be."
He said the company would be buying load balancers, routers, servers and other hardware, but he was not looking for additional suppliers.
"I can imagine I'll be inundated by vendor calls. We are in the final stages of procurement. If we haven't spoken to you yet, it means we don't want to," he said.
The company will hire between 20 and 30 additional staff to cope with demand from successful applications, taking its total number above 100.
It might take ICANN up to two years to process all applications.