The official domain registry of the .ph domain is dotPH Domains Inc.<ref name="about-dotph">"About dotPH", dotPH Website. Retrieved on May 30, 2008.</ref> dotPH holds and maintains the database of PH domain names, specifically .ph, .com.ph, .net.ph, .org.ph, .mil.ph, .ngo.ph and .i.ph.<ref>"Domain Name Service Agreement", dotPH Policies. Retrieved on May 30, 2008.</ref><ref name="dotph-releases-iph">"dotPH releases world's first anonymous domain", dotPH News. Retrieved on May 30, 2008.</ref><ref name="i-ph-site">i.ph Website. Retrieved on May 30, 2008.</ref> Its registrars are not only individuals, businesses and organizations in the Philippines, but also those in other parts of the world.<ref name="about-dotph" />
The PH domain is currently administered by Jose Emmanuel "Joel" Disini,<ref name="ph-whois">".ph Whois information", Internet Assigned Numbers Authority. Retrieved on May 30, 2008.</ref> who is also dotPH's current CEO.<ref>Disini, Joel. "About Me", jed.i.ph. Retrieved on May 30, 2008.</ref><ref>"Gov't. ICT Services Criticized", dotPH News. Retrieved on May 30, 2008.</ref> Disini has been the domain administrator since Jon Postel assigned him the domain in 1990.<ref name="phildac-whitepaper">The PH Domain and the Need for Policy Reforms. Retrieved on May 30, 2008.</ref><ref name="jed-i-ph-winthrop">Disini, Joel (June 8, 2005). "My Reply To Winthrop Yu On His PICS Letter", jed.i.ph. Retrieved on May 30, 2008.</ref> The domain is sponsored by the PH Domain Foundation,<ref name="ph-whois" /> a social outreach arm of dotPH which was also founded by Disini together with a group of IT professionals in August 1999.<ref name="phdf-profile">"PH Domain Foundation Profile/Background", PH Domain Foundation website. Retrieved on May 30, 2008.</ref>
In 1994, the administration of the gov.ph domain was sub-delegated to the Philippine government.<ref>http://www.ph.net/phildac/whitepaper.html</ref> In like manner, edu.ph was sub-delegated to the Philippine Network Foundation, Inc. (PHNET).<ref>http://www.ph.net</ref>
Aside for being the registry, dotPH also sells domains and web-related services such as web hosting and web design.<ref>dotPH homepage. Retrieved on May 30, 2008.</ref> It also offers free blogging services through .i.ph domains.<ref name="dotph-releases-iph" /><ref name="i-ph-site" />
Managed by dotPH
- .com.ph — Businesses/commercial entities
- .net.ph — Internet-oriented organizations
- .org.ph — Non-commercial organizations
- .mil.ph — Philippine military
- .ngo.ph — Philippine non-governmental organizations
- .i.ph — Domains for individuals
Managed by DOST
- .gov.ph — Government agencies
Managed by PHNET
- .edu.ph — Educational institutions
The Birth of the .ph Registry
In 1989, Joel Disini founded the Email Company (EMC), one of the earliest Internet service providers in the Philippines.<ref name="phdf-news">Garcia, Jing (July 1, 2001). "A Day In The Life Of Joel Disini", Manila Standard Business Sunday column. Quoted in full at the PH Domain Foundation website. Retrieved on May 30, 2008.</ref><ref name="cargonews">Mallari, Rene (July 1, 2000). "Doing It Hard", Cargonews Asia. Retrieved on May 31, 2008.</ref> At that time most networks (including EMC) were connected to the Internet via uucp. Disini's network had a uucp connection to UUNET. This network connection, along with Disini's five-year experience in Macintosh Networking & Communications software development at Cupertino, California, became Jon Postel's basis for delegating the .ph domain to him.<ref name="jed-i-ph-winthrop" /> The .ph country code top level domain was officially delegated on September 14, 1990.<ref name="ph-whois" /> Since then, .ph domains became commercially available to EMC customers.<ref name="phildac-whitepaper" /><ref>"EMC Company Profile", EMC website. Retrieved on May 31, 2008.</ref>
The Splitting of .ph Domain Administration
In 1994, the PHNET wide-area network, a project funded by DOST, completed its development and was able to connect the Philippines to the rest of the world by establishing TCP/IP connections to the U.S. using 64 kbit/s international leased lines.<ref>PHNET's history,Philippine Network Foundation, Inc. website. Retrieved on May 30, 2008.</ref>
At this point, the PHNET Foundation wanted to assume responsibility to run the .ph domain registry. So they made negotiations with Disini, but they failed. Negotiations persisted, and eventually Disini gave in to the pressure and transferred the administration of .gov.ph and .edu.ph to PHNET Foundation. Later on PHNET Foundation would pass the administration of .gov.ph to DOST.<ref name="phildac-whitepaper" />
At that time domain fees ranged from Php 450 to Php 1,350.<ref name="phildac-whitepaper" /> Domains registered during this period had no expiration and therefore had no renewal rates, thus the label lifetime domains.<ref name="lifetime-domains">"Manage Lifetime Domains", dotPH Website. Retrieved on May 31, 2008.</ref> However, a fee was charged for modifications to these domains. Lifetme domains were non-transferable, and were only valid for the lifetime of the original Registrant.
The PH Domain Foundation and dotPH
In August 1999 Disini and the technical people at EMC formed the PH Domain Foundation. It sought to promote the Internet and free unlimited email services in rural areas.<ref name="phdf-profile" /> It also took charge of the domain selling business<ref>Lewel, John (September 9, 1999). "Philippine Domain Registry Adopts Quicker Policy", asia.internet.com. Retrieved on May 31, 2008.</ref> and the management of the .ph domain registry.<ref name="ph-whois" />
On October 1, 1999, the PH Domain Foundation launched a fully-automated online system for domain registration. It also launched a flat .ph domain space, enabling people to register domains like "domainname.ph".<ref name="web-dot-com">"PH Domain Foundation launches flat domain space, automated registration", Manila Bulletin, October 21, 1999. Quoted in full on Internet Toolbox Vol. 11, November 1-15, 1999 series at the Web Dot Com Website Development Philippines site (Web Archive copy). Retrieved on May 31, 2008.</ref><ref name="asia-internet-com-flat-ph">Rajendran, Joseph (October 20, 1999). "DotPH Introduces Flat Domain Names", asia.internet.com. Retrieved on May 31, 2008.</ref> Lifetime domain registration was halted, and all domains registered subsequently carried expiration dates. Domain owners now had to renew their domains for a fee to extend their lifetime.<ref name="lifetime-domains" />
At around this period, the "for-profit" business and technical side of the PH Domain Foundation became identified as dotPH. Activities related to domains and the business were now attributed to dotPH, such as the resolution on the dispute between Yahoo! Philippines and another Philippine company, <ref>"Yet Another Yahoo! Dispute: Yahoo! Philippines wins dispute against local company", Financial Times Limited, May 22, 2001. Quoted in full at sedo.com Domain News. Retrieved on May 31, 2008.</ref> the launching of the automated online registration system,<ref name="asia-internet-com-flat-ph" /> and even the administration of the .ph domain registry itself. To this day, dotPH maintains itself as the official domain registry of the Philippines.<ref>dotPH Website. Retrieved on May 30, 2008.</ref>
In 2000, dotPH developed a system called the Shared Registry System (SRS) which enabled domain registrars and ISP's to manage domains and accept registrations on their own site by connecting to the dotPH registry backend. This is done by downloading and installing on their server a module that does the actual communication with the registry backend using an XML-based protocol.<ref>"Registrar Program - Setup Your Registration Page", dotPH Website. Retrieved on May 31, 2008.</ref>
dotPH also became one of the first Philippine sites to accept online credit card payments.<ref name="about-dotph" />
General Policies for registering PH domain names
(These are for .ph, .com.ph, net.ph, org.ph, mil.ph, ngo.ph and i.ph domain names. For edu.ph policies, see http://services.ph.net/dns/policies/generalpolicy/generalpolicy.html and for .gov.ph policies, see http://www.asti.dost.gov.ph )
- .PH Domain Names are registered on a first-paid, first-served basis.
- There are no local residency requirements for registering a .PH domain. With the exception of .mil.ph, .gov.ph and .edu.ph domains, anyone may register any available .PH domain.
- .PH domain names must have at least 3 characters. One and 2 character domain names are not allowed for registration.
- As few as three and as many as 63 characters (not including .PH) are permitted. Because some mail programs do not accept more than 26 characters in a combined TLD and second level domain name, names with more than 23 characters for the second level domain (plus .PH = 26). Names may not begin or end with a dash, and upper case and lower case are treated as lower case only. Besides the - character, only alphanumeric characters a-z, 0-9 are accepted. Spaces and any other characters in a name will not be accepted. Names with only numeric characters and names with spaces will not be accepted for registration.
- Domains registered prior to October 1, 1999 are known as 'Lifetime domains' and are not subject to renewal fees. They should, however, be able to send/receive email. Specifically, the Registry should be able to send mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and receive a reply other than a bounce. Otherwise, the domain shall be forfeited due to non-activation/non-use. If a lifetime domain, however, files to transform into an annual (regular) domain, the postmaster rule shall no longer be in effect.
- Lifetime domains cannot be modified online, and a fee must be paid for manual modification.
- The registrant may choose to convert a lifetime domain to regular status. Once converted, the registration/renewal fee is paid every 2 years. All subsequent Registrant modifications will be free and can be done 24/7 via the online Control Panel.
Terms of Service
All Domain Names are serviced for limited periods. Specifically, Nameholders may choose to register a domain for the following time periods:
- two (2) years or;
- five (5) years or;
- ten (10) years.
In the absence of any successful legal challenge, the Nameholder has the right of first refusal to renew the service of Nameholder's Domain Name. This right expires on the last day of the initial term or then existing term of service for which dotPH has received payment.
Nameholder agrees that the Service Agreement shall be governed in all respects by and construed in accordance with the laws of the Philippines. By submitting a domain name for registration, Nameholder consents to the exclusive jurisdiction and venue of the appropriate court in Pasig City, Philippines. The Nameholder further agrees to abide by DotPH's Policies, especially it's Dispute Resolution Policy, patterned after ICANN's UDRP.
Persons wishing to apply for the Domain Name Service of dotPH Inc. ("dotPH") need only register online at www.dot.ph and submit their contact information. There are no other requirements.
In 2001 several complaints against dotPH were formally filed by members of PhilDAC with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). One complaint was formally withdrawn, and the rest were eventually dismissed with prejudice for reasons including "failure to prosecute" and "lack of interest".
After studies made by the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) in 2002, the Philippine Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT) Commissioner, Ver Pena, created an Advisory Board composed of representatives from the academe and various industry groups, including PhilDAC, to draft guidelines for the operations of the PH ccTLD. After two public hearings conducted through the NTC in 2004, the "Guidelines in the Administration of the .Ph Domain Name" was issued by the CICT in November 2004.
The administrator has publicly expressed doubts about the viability of the Guidelines, and raised questions about the manner in which the Advisory Board was appointed. In particular, that dotPH was excluded from participating in drafting the Guidelines and from the Board's subsequent deliberations; and that the Guidelines contain practically no input from dotPH representatives despite their submission of several position papers. PhilDAC, however, has responded by pointing out that the administrator was invited to participate in the two hearings but refused to do so.
The administration of the PH cctld has long been criticized by some members of the Philippine DomainName Authority Convenors (PhilDAC). Members of PhilDAC have been involved in five separate attempts to redelegate and seize control of the PH domain, claiming as their basis, the need for greater transparency, accountability, and community input in the way PH Domain Policy is created. The Whitepaper of PhilDAC can be found here (and in .doc format here and RTF here).
The Registry currently conducts online polls to solicit feedback from the community but its decision-making process is opaque. Ultimately, the domain administrator Mr Jose Emmanuel Disini decides on all the policy decisions. Whether he makes those decisions for the good of the Philippine Internet community or, as PhilDAC charges, for his own personal interests is subject to debate.
Mr. Disini's claims that the PH domain is better off being "policy light", rather than being policy heavy - as desired by PhilDAC. He has argued that that subjecting registrants to new Policy requirements would require DotPH to discard the current first-come first-served quick registration process. This would mean domain registrations will take longer to process, and there will be more costs involved as verifying compliance with additional policies would be a manual process. Nobody really wants this, Mr. Disini believes, hence PhilDAC's "demand" for Policy Oversight is just a red herring - that Policy Formation is not their true concern. PhilDAC maintains, on the other hand, that their demand for Policy Oversight will not result in undue or burdensome requirements. It is not known at this time, however, what specific policies PhilDAC would like to add or change, other than to change the management of DotPH.
Although formally invited to the two public hearings conducted by the NTC, the administrator chose not to attend to attend the hearings, but presented his views via position papers circulated during the meetings and published on the Dotph website. Some of his comments to the CICT Guidelines can be seen here. A rebuttal to these comments, on the other hand, can be found here.
The CICT Guidelines specifically calls for the separation of the functions of the Registry from the Administrator. While Mr. Disini claims that these functions had already been run by separate entities as of 1999, with the PH Domain Foundation as the Administrator, and DotPH as the Registry, PhilDAC contends that both of these entities are actually run by Mr. Disini himself or his representatives and are therefore not truly separate. The PH Domain Foundation website actually states that: "The PH Domain Foundation is the social outreach arm of the local PH Domain Registry.
PhilDAC says that because the Administrator and Registry are not separate, the redelegation clause of the Guidelines has become operative. Mr. Disini maintains that the CICT Guidelines were created under such a climate of hostility, that it is riddled with factual errors, and thus its key provision - demanding separation of Registry and Administrator - was already a fact six years before the CICT Guidelines were drafted. Hence the CICT Guidelines are broken, and unimplementable. Mr. Disini maintains that PhilDAC members of the CICT Advisory Committee that drafted the Guidelines were primarily out to seize control of DotPH, for whatever reasons they may have. "Their real objective was to separate the Registrar and Registry functions of DotPH, but the PhilDAC people were completely clueless and just botched up the Guidelines".
The CICT is currently under fire for its involvement in the ZTE scandal, and has rebuffed all attempts to revive the Guidelines. The CICT is seen in some quarters as a rubber stamp organization created primarily to provide a cloak of legitimacy to questionable large-scale Government-funded IT projects. Disini maintains that CICT had practically zero input into the drafting of the Guidelines, and cared little about the actual content of said Guidelines.