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A Brief History of the .FR Domain Name Extension

October 9, 2011

A belated happy birthday to France's domain name extension, .fr, which turned 25 last month.

Launched in September 1986, over 2.1 million .fr domain names are currently registered, growing substantially from just 400,000 in 2005. 93% of France's top companies have registered a .fr domain.

Marking the occasion, Éric Besson, France's Minister of Industry, Energy and the Digital Economy, commented French companies are increasingly aware of their
web identity and thanks to the nation's 2012 Digital France plan, France is one of the leading countries of the digital economy.

In September 1986, NRIA (The French Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control) were tasked with the management of the .fr registry; under the name of NIC-FRANCE. INRIA was the only Internet provider in France at the time. 

In 1992, NIC-FRANCE allowed other registrars to join its first consultation committee. It was through this committee, .fr's first naming charter was developed by 1995, designed to preserve the integrity of the extension. 

While the registration of Australian domain names  and some other ccTLD's have accompanying strict eligibility criteria, it was this charter that placed even tighter restrictions initially of the registration of .fr domains; creating what was effectively a "sunrise" period that would last an unprecedented  10 years. A sunrise period is the window after a new domain extension's launch where only owners of trademarks may register a domain name containing their mark.

By 1998, INRIA had changed the structure in charge of overseeing .fr, creating AFNIC (French Association for Internet Naming in Cooperation) for this purpose.

The 400,000th .fr domain name was registered on 17 October 2005 and by June 2006,  registration of .fr names became available to any adult with a postal address in France or its territories. Just 4 months after this occurred, another 100, 000 domain names had been registered - and by September 10, 2009, the 1.5 millionth .fr domain was brought into existence.

To mark the 25th anniversary, late last month AFNIC published a special magazine entitled "The .fr TLD turns 25", tracing the history of the extension.

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