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Ask HN: Nepal's ccTLD registrar won't let devs update nameservers. What to do?
51 points by njsubedi on Sept 21, 2013 | hide | past | favorite | 33 comments
I am a freelance web developer from Nepal and I'm asking this question after spending more than 2 weeks to contact the registrars and discuss with fellow developers.

Mercantile Corporation (http://register.mos.com.np) is the only authorized ccTLD registrar of Nepal, which lets us register domains like .com.np, .biz.np, .org.np etc. for free. Currently around a hundred thousand domains have been registered by Mercantile. They have updated their service recently and all the user login details are now void - that means we cannot login to manage our / clients' domains! We have an option to call them, ask for new login details in our email which takes them 2 business days to process. Even after logging in we are not allowed to update even the nameservers of the domains! Upon asking them they tell that we need to go to their office - only one central office exists in the entire country - and write an application, and wait them to update our details manually. They would hardly do that either. It's been few months since I along with several web developers from Nepal are locked out of their domain names. It would not be the case until few months back.

I went through ICANN's website because Mercantile has been authorized to create sub-domains like com, aero, edu, etc. under .np ccTLD. I couldn't find a place to report the monopoly and misconduct of Mercantile corporation. That's why I chose to ask HN community for suggestion, information or even a way out to make them provide access to domains registered by ddvelopers throughout the country.

This is a case of urgency and I would like to know if any fellow hacker in the community had been through this nightmare and if yes how s/he solved the issue.

Regards, Njsubedi

I am from Nepal (living in the US) so it gives me joy to see this post in HN. I see that you wanted to know if ICANN has basic guidelines that could be enforced in Nepal. I do not know much about that.

But, I suggest that you initiate a local campaign to pressure Mercantile to make the process easier. Here are few ideas to consider - 1. Bring this to the attention of Computer Association of Nepal 2. Share this tragedy with tech-activists (Gaurab Raj Upadhyaya, Brijen Joshi, Bhupal Sapkota, Ankur Sharma, Akar Anil are few names that come to mind) and get their help raising the concern to the wider community (blogs, meetings etc) 3. Meet with Mercantile management to make sure they are aware of the current hoops and communicate how backward the current process is. Also make sure they are not being asked to make it this way from govt. agencies. Offer help if they need it. 4. Meet with government representatives and request them to facilitate the needed change.

Email me if you need intros to people I mentioned above or if there is anything else I could do.

Glad that you replied and provided constructive suggestions! I know Bhupal Sapkota and Aakar Anil, but never thought of telling them to use their big fan-base to raise this issue. I'd certainly take actions that will make life of web developers easier in future. Please let me know what your email is, or drop me a mail at (my user name here) AT gmail.

Thanks a lot for the four points. Good luck being an entrepreneur soon! :)

Since it is a ccTLD, it is a nepalese internal matter and I don't see why ICANN should be involved at all. Ask local authorities, write to the governement, raise the issue in the local Internet community, etc.

I would suggest however that you reach out to the ccNSO (Country Code Names Supporting Organisation); they are the body within ICANN that handles ccTLDs. The ccNSO can't force them to behave but they can strongly suggest they pull their finger out. http://ccnso.icann.org/

If Mercantile are also registrars for gTLDs as well then you talk to the Registrar Compliance Program staff and see if they can nudge them. There is a form that you can use on this page to register complaints about ccTLD registrars; http://www.icann.org/en/resources/compliance/complaints

The links you provided are really useful. Thanks. Mercantile is a private company and its ccTLD and gTLD sections work independently. I winder how it got authority of choosing extensions and registering without a minimum required service quality. Is there any possibility that ICANN revokes the authority from Mercantile and find an alternative?

If Mercantile run the SRS (Shared Registry Service) for .np, then that is a choice of the state of Nepal not ICANN. The government of Nepal appoints a registry (typically a company, sometimes a university or communications arm of the government), and in the case of smaller countries the registry appoints a technical provider to run the technology side of the registry; i.e. the SRS.

Another point to consider is that the policy of having to show up in person may be a policy dictated by the government and/or the registry, not necessarily the SRS provider or the registrar.

You have clearly never been to Nepal. I've lived there for over three years. Any position that has any form of power will be abused. Nothing happens when you go through the painstakingly complex process of doing things by the book for one reason: you are being blackmailed. You either have to know somebody or pay the price - which can of course be quite steep if there's a monopoly situation as we have here. Ke garne

Thanks for the response. I was wondering if there is any policy of ICANN that compells local registrars to provide minimum support.

Apparently, .np has no registrar at all but a direct relationship registrant<->regsitry.

Is there any way to find out whether that is a permanent deal or contract based?

I don't think there's anything you can really do but jump through their hoops.

Although, to spare yourself future problems, you could register nepalesefreedns.net and have people point nameservers for their .np domains to nsX.nepalesefreedns.net. Set up XName[1] or a similar panel for it.

That way you will only have to endure the pain once. That is, until the registry breaks something else.

[1] http://source.xname.org/

Thanks for sharing. I guess that's the best way we can save trouble in the future!

Being a Nepali citizen, you know that the only way to get people in powerful positions to do what they are supposed to do without paying, is to retaliate the blackmail. In this case I hope you can get an International organization to look at this. If not, perhaps you could get this to the attention of some hacktivists.

I agree. Last month 1 successfully revived my domain after requesting more than 4 times via email and phone call over 2 months. This must be checked. If mercantile is unable to handle this there is definitely much better alternatives.

Is there any way we can force Mercantile Corp. to let us edit nameservers ourselves? There's no any law regarding domain naes in Nepal, so are there international laws? ICANN Registrars' Policy? Anything that helps?

I certainly hope there is no foreign law forcing how a sovereign country must manage its domain names.

Yesterday I bought a .my domain from Exabytes and I found that the nameservers can only be updated through their support staff rather than using their control panel.

Not as bad as your problem but a mild annoyance nonetheless.

NIC-SE (.se) used to require you to fax in nameserver updates. This was 10 years ago though...

It used to be the same for nic.it, but things changed some 2 or 3 years ago.

Who wants to travel across the country just to update nameservers, and without even guarantee? They are not providing support in the past few months!

I changed my nameserver from the MOS control panel some time ago. It took about a week, though.

I doubt there's much you can do, except having the contract legally enforced.

Would that be viable?

The service is free, that's probably the main reason why they are showing carelessness. There is no any legal contract signed when registering the domain names, so I'm not sure about it.

I'm not suggesting it, but since the service is apparently underfunded, could it be a palm greasing issue?

First thing I thought, if nepal is anything like the rest of the region it makes sense.

That sucks.

What also sucks is being asked for money to change name servers only:

  .gr: £46.64 (74 USD)
  .cz: £14.57
  .dk: £24.29
  .hu: £17.49
  .ro: £17.49

for the .ro (Romania) domains this is not really true. the national domain registrar (rotld.ro) doesn't charge anything for updating name servers. probably the additional fees you're talking about are imposed by some third-party / reseller.

what I also found interesting or at least peculiar is that the Romanian registrar charges a one-time only fee for registering a domain and it has been doing so for as long as I know. you pay 50 Euros per domain but you get to keep it for your whole life or as long as they don't decide to charge on a yearly basis. I'm curious if there's any other domain provider offering lifetime registration?

That must have changed?


looks like 17 Euro/yr with breaks on longer terms

EDIT: I went to the English site tho, not rotld.ro - perhaps residents only get the better deal?

.dk danish domains is free. Where do you get that price from?

Those are charges of eurodns; I called them and they said that they're just passing on me what the registrar charge them.

EuroDNS is a registrar. Are you sure you are not mixing registry and registrar ?

Could you please provide the source of this information? As far as I know it is not true at least for .cz domains.

Its Mercantile's negligence!

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