October 3, 2014
Equatorial Guinea's country code Top Level Domain (ccTLD), .GQ, is being re-launched under a new registration model.
A country in Central Africa, Equatorial Guinea has a population of just 622,000 and around 42,000 Internet users (2011); so .GQ was never going to be setting any records for uptake domestically - but the re-launch will certainly attract some attention.
From December 1, GQ domain registration will be provided for free for the country's residents and internationally.
"Free domains make a lot of sense in countries where the banking penetration is in the single digit range," says Joost Zuurbier; CEO of Freenom, which will be offering the domains via Dominio.GQ. Freenom is also the company that is the registry operator of another well-known extension that can be registered for free; .TK.
While certainly not the poorest of African nations, average household incomes in Equatorial Guinea are lowed compared to Western nations and the unemployment rate is very high; so no doubt the offer of a free domain will be eagerly accepted by the nation's tech-savvy and internet-connected residents.
The .GQ extension is not new - it's been in existence since 1997. The free registration initiative is being carried out in partnership with the Guinea Ecuatorial de Telecomunicaciones Sociedad Anonima (GETESA).
Before the freebies begin, a 'sunrise' period is in effect where trademark holders and their agencies have first pick.
Free domains under another nation's ccTLD can be an acceptable option for hobbyists or for those simply just too stretched for cash to purchase registration of a better known extension; but Australian businesses should stick with registering a .COM.AU.
The major reason for this is trust and credibility - Australian consumers generally trust .COM.AU sites more. A recent survey showed .AU domains experience more than double the level of consumer trust over any other extension, and trust is an important factor in turning browsers to buyers.
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