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Massive, unannounced deletion of dot-zm domains by Zamnet

11 June 2013 11:15:39 +0000

Over the last few days it has become apparent to us that Zamnet’s accounting department — just as Coppernet’s did almost three years ago — awoke from a long hibernation and realised that a chunk of active domains hadn’t been paid for. As a result, 37 per cent of the dot-zm domains hosted by NinerNet that are (or were) registered with Zamnet — which includes .co.zm, .org.zm and .sch.zm domains — were deleted by Zamnet, taking them off the Internet completely. One client tells us that Zamnet informed them, when they enquired, that they were supposedly four years behind! (UPDATE, 2013-06-28: Another client tells us they had not been invoiced for their dot-co.zm domain in thirteen years! They’ve since switched to a dot-com with “zambia” tacked onto their name, as so many people do to avoid the hassle and expense of registering a dot-zm domain.)

It seems unlikely to us that so many Zamnet customers had simply ignored their invoices for several years. It’s more likely that they were never invoiced. In fact, our own domain (ninernet.co.zm) came up for renewal over a month ago, and we still have not received an invoice. Perhaps Zamnet are too busy disabling over a third of the country’s Internet infrastructure to send out invoices! (CORRECTION, 2013-06-28: Oops, seems we hadn’t updated our records correctly. Zamnet [when they do invoice] bills for domains every two years. Ours does not expire until next year. Our apologies for the incorrect statement, although it doesn’t really change much!)

Screenshot of Zamnet home page, 11 June 2013.

Screenshot of Zamnet home page, 11 June 2013

Other countries take the management of their ccTLD (country code top-level domain) far more seriously than this. They have published rules and procedures governing what exactly happens after a domain expires. They also operate a WHOIS service so that the public can look up “who is” the owner of a domain and the dates that it was registered and will expire. Zamnet and Coppernet, as co-stewards of the dot-zm ccTLD — an odd arrangement that we are not aware of in any other country — do not provide any such information, at least to the public. In fact, judging by these arbitrary and cavalier mass deletions carried out by both companies, they don’t even have any such policies! They just seem to make this up as they go along.

Screenshot of ZICTA home page, 11 June 2013.

Screenshot of ZICTA home page, 11 June 2013

You would think that — given that deleting 37 per cent of the country’s domains has all of the appearance of a planned and concerted effort — Zamnet would, at the very least, post a prominent notice on the home page of their website. However, there is no such notice as of posting this. (Click on the thumbnail at left to see.) I’m also not aware of any notices posted in newspapers. So much for their laughable slogan: “Nobody delivers IT better.” Right now, more than a third of their customers are not gettingĀ anything delivered, and it’s clear that their slogan doesn’t apply to the delivery of invoices.

 

And where is ZICTA in all of this? You’d think they’d be interested in the disabling of 37 per cent of the country’s domains, but there’s nothing posted on the home page of their website either! Maybe a few complaints via their complaint form might get their attention. (UPDATE, 2013-06-28: Hmm, the complaint form disappeared shortly after we posted this. Try their “Complaint Handling” page instead.)

Please note that, if you did not register your dot-zm domain through NinerNet, we do not know when it is scheduled to expire and we cannot help you in dealing with Zamnet. We don’t know how effective it would be to request an update to the contact information for your domain so that we can monitor it, from an administrative (not technical) point of view, but if you’d like to try we’re certainly game to assist and cooperate. Let us know if you’d like to try.

Issues such as these mass and arbitrary deletions, as well as the entire dot-zm ccTLD going down occasionally, are the two main reason we discourage clients from registering dot-zm domains. This is unfortunate, of course, but clients expect their online services to actually be … online! It is also the reason that we created the alternative ccTLD for Zambia: dot-zam.co. They’re only K66 per year (as opposed to hundreds for a dot-co.zm and hundreds more for a dot-com.zm) and don’t require paperwork.

Zambian kwacha rebasing

15 December 2012 15:42:05 +0000

As you will be aware, if you’re a Zambian client, the kwacha will be rebased on 1 January 2013, making 1000 old kwachas equal to 1 new kwacha. In keeping with Bank of Zambia guidelines and requirements, this will affect our invoicing as follows:

  • Invoices we issue between 15 and 31 December 2012, inclusive, will be issued in old kwachas, but will also include a value in new (rebased) kwachas. If you pay the invoice on or before 31 December, you will need to pay the old kwacha amount. If you pay the invoice on or after 1 January, you will need to pay the new kwacha amount.
  • Invoices we issue between 1 January and 30 June will be in new kwachas, but will include the value in old kwachas for comparison.
  • Where we have used the “K” symbol we will use the “KR” symbol (“kwacha rebased”) between 1 January and 30 June, inclusive. After that we will once again revert to using just the “K”.
  • Where we have used the currency code ZMK, we will use ZMW on and after 1 January.
  • Any account balances carried over into 2013 will be converted to new kwachas (ZMW) by dividing by 1000, and rounding as per BOZ guidelines. Similarly, previous account balances, although billed and paid for in old kwachas, will be converted to new kwachas for the purpose of calculating your running account balance in new kwachas.
  • Invoices will be rounded off to the nearest 5 ngwee to facilitate cash payments by those clients who prefer to pay in cash. CORRECTION, 2013-01-30: Invoices will not be rounded. If you are paying in cash in person, your balance owing will be rounded to the nearest 5 ngwee at the time of payment. If you deposit cash to our bank account, please round to the nearest 5 ngwee. Whether the rounding is up or down, we will record the actual payment and carry forward a balance of the difference (1 or 2 ngwee) between your payment and the actual invoice amount. If the rounding is down, this will not adversely affect the state of your account with us.
  • The cover emails to which invoices are attached (and all reminders, expiry notices, etc.) will reflect amounts only in old kwachas in 2012, and only in new kwachas in 2013. These emails are only an unofficial summary of the official invoice, which is the PDF document attached to the invoice email.
  • We will, in due course, publish new rates on our website. There will be no increase in our rates at this time — i.e., all rates in new kwachas will be the same as the old rates, divided by 1000.

If you have any questions about this, please let us know. Thank-you.

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This is the corporate blog of NinerNet Communications. It's where we post announcements, inform and educate our clients, and discuss issues related to the Internet (web and email) hosting business and all it entails. This includes concomitant industries and activities such as domain registration, SSL/TLS certificates, online back-up, virtual private servers (VPS), cloud hosting, etc. Please visit our main website for more information about us.

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