On 1 January 2003, Public Interest Registry (PIR) officially assumed responsibility as the registry operator for the .org top-level domain.
PIR is a not-for-profit corporation created by the Internet Society (ISOC) to manage the .org registry. PIR was selected by ICANN from among eleven competing proposals through an open request-for-proposals process. Proposals were judged on criteria including the need to preserve a stable, well-functioning .org registry, enhancement of competition for registration services; responsiveness to the noncommercial Internet user community; and the type, quality, and cost of the registry services proposed.
The overall purpose of changing operators of the .org registry is to enhance the diversity of providers in the provision of registry services. This purpose is being accomplished in a way that preserves the security and stability of the domain-name system.
Operationally, 1 January was only one of several milestones that must be passed to complete the transition of the .org registry. As of 1 January, all registrars wishing to continue to sponsor their customers' registrations in .org were required to enter into Registry-Registrar Agreements (RRAs) with PIR. (The .org RRAs with VeriSign expired on 31 December 2002.) All but a few very small registrars have completed this step; we expect the remaining RRAs to be completed quickly.
During the first 25 days of January, VeriSign Global Registry Services (VeriSign) will continue to operate the registry system, as a subcontractor to PIR. On Saturday, 25 January, the operation of the .org registry will be shifted to Afilias, the subcontractor selected by PIR. To allow time for the processes required to separate the .org registry from the .com and .net registries, there will be a period of approximately seven hours on that day when changes cannot be made in any of the three registries. (This outage coincides with a software upgrade at VeriSign registry, which among other things will introduce support for the Redemption Grace Period feature.)
After the registries come back up after this outage, registrars must send requests for changes to .org names to Afilias, while still sending changes for .com and .net registrations to VeriSign. The protocol (other than the registry IP address) will remain unchanged. Although many registrar systems will need to be revised to properly handle the split, significant problems are not expected. (All registrars' systems will be required to complete testing and qualification beforehand.)
As described in the PIR (ISOC) proposal, once the split of registries is completed PIR/Afilias will begin a migration from the current "thin" registry to a "thick" registry. (This is very similar to the registry system Afilias currently operates for .info.) This migration will be done on a registrar-by-registrar basis.
VeriSign will continue providing nameservice for the .org top-level domain (using zone files prepared by Afilias) for approximately six months. Nameservice for the .org domain will then be transitioned to UltraDNS, which provides nameservice under contract with Afilias.
For additional information concerning the .org transition, please refer to the following sources: