After ten years of work, the .bzh GeoTLD is now on-line. Brittany has thus become the first French region to have its own GeoTLD. The www.bzh association as backers of the project, and the Regional Council, which has supported the initiative from the start, described the various stages of its deployment in a press conference on Thursday 26 June.
A long-term project launched in 2004
After drafting the application file, raising the necessary funds to submit it to ICANN and meeting all the legal and technical requirements, the www.bzh association obtained the agreement for the deployment of the .bzh GeoTLD from the international regulatory authority for the Internet in May 2013. But the project was only finally realized in February 2014, with the signing of the registry agreement between ICANN and the association chaired by David Lesvenan, now in charge of the registry managing the GeoTLD for Brittany.
After four months of tests with Afnic to validate the ability of the technical platform of the .bzh GeoTLD to integrate the internet root zone, the first two addresses have been activated: that of www.pik.bzh association (“pik” means “dot” in Breton) and that of the Brittany Regional Council, www.region.bzh.
Pioneer partner sites will be displayed during the summer with Afnic support. The marketing of domain names under the .bzh GeoTLD will follow in September. The first phase will be reserved for holders of trademark registered with the French National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI), followed by a second phase in November, when purchasing will be reserved for local authorities, associations and other economic stakeholders in the region.
Have a .bzh email address for Christmas
In December, the .bzh GeoTLD will be available to the general public, including individuals wishing to purchase their domain names from accredited registrars, whether to host their personal website, their blog, or simply use it for their email address (firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, etc.). Sales will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Applicants will also be required to prove the existence of a geographical or cultural link with Brittany. To date, 30,000 pre-registrations have been identified.
Applicants interested in acquiring a domain name are invited to make themselves known in order to be informed of the opening phases of domain name sales on the website of the association. People born in Brittany or fans of the region are also invited to try to win their .bzh e-mail address on www.pik.bzh.
David Lesvenan, President of the www.bzh association which has backed the project: “This is a very important moment and the culmination of years of effort for all of our association’s members who have worked pro bono for the project right from the start. We should also like to thank all the individual and collective backers who have enabled us to realize the project, including the Brittany Regional Council, which has provided constant support. The activation of the .bzh in the Internet root zone now provides regional stakeholders, people born in Brittany and fans of Brittany everywhere with an opportunity to promote a modern cultural image for the region by displaying their website or email address with the .bzh GeoTLD. The 30,000 pre-registrations already identified mean we can expect immediate success.”
Pierrick Massiot, President of the Brittany Regional Council: “Brittany is the first French region to have its own internet GeoTLD and to assert a digital identity, by definition, open to the world. It is also a striking symbol of our ability to take collective action to back innovative projects at national and international levels. The Brittany Regional Council, which has been involved in the project for many years, will now invest in the new namespace by activating websites with the .bzh GeoTLD”.
For Mathieu Weill, CEO of Afnic, “The registration of the first domain names with the .bzh GeoTLD is the material result of an ambitious project that we have been glad to help. For Internet users, the new namespace represents a novel means of communicating about innovation and asserting the cultural and economic assets of an entire region. For all the stakeholders involved, the coming months will provide us with an opportunity to measure the scope and scale of projects that use the .bzh GeoTLD as their banner.”
A project backed by the Brittany Regional Council since 2006
The Regional Council has actively and proactively backed the .bzh GeoTLD project from the unanimous vote in its favor by the Assembly in 2006. Support has included funding the feasibility study in 2007, the formation of an association for stakeholders in 2008, funding of the application fee (EUR 140,000) filed with ICANN in 2012, annual operating grants for the association, and a repayable advance of 250,000 euros in April 2013 to allow the effective launch of the GeoTLD in 2014.
 ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, is the global authority for regulation of the Internet, based in California.
 Afnic, the French acronym for the French Network Information Centre (Association Française pour le Nommage Internet en Coopération) is the national manager for the .fr TLD and the technical partner for the Breton regional GeoTLD.
Brittany Regional Council – Odile BRULEY ( +33 (0)220.127.116.11.55 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Association www.bzh – Elodie CLOAREC ( +33 (0)18.104.22.168.53 or email@example.com
Afnic – Stéphanie PASQUET et Patricia SERGENT ( +33 (0)22.214.171.124.23 / 25 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Afnic is the acronym for Association Française pour le Nommage Internet en Coopération, the French Network Information Centre. The registry has been appointed by the French government to manage domain names under the .fr Top Level Domain. Afnic also manages the .re (Reunion Island), .pm (Saint-Pierre and Miquelon), .tf (French Southern and Antarctic Territories), .wf (Wallis and Futuna) and .yt (Mayotte) French Overseas TLDs.
In addition to managing French TLDs, Afnic’s role is part of a wider public interest mission, which is to contribute on a daily basis, thanks to the efforts of its teams and its members, to a secure and stable internet, open to innovation and in which the French internet community plays a leading role. As part of that mission, Afnic, a non-profit organization, has committed to devoting 11% of its Revenues from managing .fr Top Level Domain to actions of general interest, in particular by transferring €1.3 million each year to the Afnic Foundation for Digital Solidarity.
Afnic is also the back-end registry for the companies as well as local and regional authorities that have chosen to have their own TLD, such as .paris, .bzh, .alsace, .corsica, .mma, .ovh, .leclerc and .sncf.
Established in 1997 and based in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, Afnic currently has nearly 90 employees.