The SWITCH foundation is currently tasked by the Federal Office of Communications (OFCOM) with performing a dual role for .ch domain names. In its role as the registry, it is responsible for maintaining the domain name database. At the same time, until March 2015 it also has the role of registrar, which involves selling .ch domain names directly to end customers. This dual role will come to an end next year, and the functions will be separated. From the beginning of 2015, SWITCH will provide information and support to all holders of .ch domain names in an orderly process accompanied by a series of communications. There is no need for SWITCH clients to do anything unless they receive detailed information from SWITCH asking them to take action.
SWITCH and OFCOM have defined the transfer process together, and it has been coordinated with the registrars. Three months before their subscriptions expire, the holders will be asked to transfer their domain names from SWITCH to a partner of their choice. All in all, this process will take around two years. SWITCH will thereafter focus on regulated registry activities. It will thus continue to ensure the secure and stable operation of the country-specific top-level domain .ch.
Regulation no longer necessary
"We welcome this separation between the sovereign, regulated function and the business with end customers. Over the years, SWITCH has built up a market for domain names that works well," says Dr Andreas Dudler, Managing Director of SWITCH. "There are now around 70 registrars offering complete services for end customers to choose from. These include our subsidiary switchplus, which also markets .ch domain names. As a neutral, independent foundation, we will in future concentrate on the secure and stable operation of the registry, together with our services for the Swiss universities."
The registry: working to ensure a secure and stable Internet in Switzerland
In operating the DNS (Domain Name System) infrastructure for .ch, SWITCH makes sure that the Swiss Internet is stable and accessible worldwide and protects it against failures and attacks. Protecting the Internet in Switzerland is SWITCH's top priority. SWITCH's renowned Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) has been successfully combating malware (harmful software) on Swiss websites since 2010, making .ch one of the most secure top-level domains in the world. The registry for .ch is a critical infrastructure for Switzerland and must therefore meet particularly high security standards. SWITCH's many years of experience and proven track record guarantee the robust design and stable operation of this critical infrastructure. At the international level, meanwhile, SWITCH works together with the authorities and is in contact or involved with key organisations such as ICANN, CENTR and ENISA as well as the IGF, ITU, OECD, DNS-OARC, IETF, FIRST and the Anti-Phishing Working Group.
Explanation of terms
A registry is an organisation that centrally administers the operation of a country's Domain Name System (DNS). In particular, it is in charge of registering the country's domain names. Examples include nic.at in Austria and denic.de in Germany. SWITCH is contracted by OFCOM in Switzerland to register domain names ending in .ch and by the Office for Communications in the Principality of Liechtenstein to register domain names ending in .li.
A registrar is a company that offers its customers domain name registration services as well as additional services such as e-mail and web hosting. It thus acts as a resale partner of the registry and an interface between the registry and the end customers (domain name holders).