.co has become increasingly popular among tech startups. The .co domain is also used by many established brands for social and mobile media, such as Twitter (t.co), Google Inc. (g.co), Amazon.com (a.co), American Express (amex.co) and Starbucks (sbux.co).
.co domain names are available for registration globally through accredited registrars.
.CO Internet S.A.S from Bogotá, Colombia, was appointed as the manager for the .co TLD through a public procurement process that took place in early 2009. .CO Internet received the re-delegation approval as the manager of the .co TLD by ICANN on December 9, 2009, and received formal confirmation of the request by the United States Department of Commerce on December 23, 2009.
When they took over administration of the .CO domain, .CO Internet S.A.S. implemented new domain policies that were more flexible than the historic ones that had been administered by the University of the Andes. The new policies were adjusted to international best practices and defined in consultation with local and international communities. With the new policies, Colombia would be able to sell second-level domain names to the world, such as widgets.co, where previously only third-level domain names were available, such as widgets.com.co.
To celebrate the launch of second-level domains, the registry auctioned the first single letter .CO domain name “e.CO” during Internet Week on June 10, 2010. A video of the auction can be seen here: For a purchase price of $81,000, the winner of the auction was internet entrepreneur Lonnie Borck of B52 Media. Proceeds were donated to a charitable cause of the winner’s choice.
As of June 2011, more than 1 million .CO domains had been registered by people in over 200 countries and territories worldwide. As of January 2014, that number has grown to over 1.6 million .CO domains registered.
With respect to search engine optimization, Google confirmed that “it will rank .co domains appropriately if the content is globally targeted”.
Google has also confirmed that it will treat .co as a gccTLD for purposes of indexing and seo.
More information about .CO and SEO can be found on the Registry’s consumer facing website, including videos from Google’s SEO expert Matt Cutts confirming Google’s positive treatment of .CO for SEO purposes.
IANA delegates ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 codes as country code top-level domains, and on December 24, 1991, the .co top-level domain was assigned to Colombia and delegated to the Universidad de los Andes.
In 2001, the university began to consider the possibility of marketing the domain as an alternative to the generic top-level domains. The government of Colombia objected on the basis that the university, a private entity, did not have regulatory oversight of the TLD and the Minister of Communications, Angela Montoya Holguín, wrote to them requesting that they not continue. In turn the university wrote to ICANN, rejecting the government’s objections and stating their intention to appoint a subcontractor to handle the commercialisation of the domain.
At a meeting on December 11, 2001, Holguín asked the Consultative Chamber and Civil Service of the Council of State to consider three issues:
- whether the .co domain is a public resource
- if the domain is public resource, whether it is intrinsically linked with telecommunications
- if the domain is linked with telecommunications, who should profit from its commercialisation
- In relation to these three issues, the meeting concluded that:
the .co domain, having been assigned to Colombia, is of public interest
the administration of the domain is intrinsically related to telecommunications, and hence falls under the purview of the Ministry of Communications, with the exception of those functions assigned to the ICFES by the Ministry of National Education
unless the Congress of Colombia adopts an act allowing tax to be collected in relation to the registration of domain names, no amount can be charged for such a service
In response to the Council of State meeting, the university wrote to ICANN on 12 February 2002 stating that it had abandoned plans to commercialise the domain, and that as it could “no longer bear the administrative and operational responsibilities” it wished to discontinue its responsibility for operating the domain.
Finally, with the enactment of Law 1065 of 2006, the Ministry of Communications of Colombia initiated a public consultation process involving local and international participants, including members of the ICANN community, with the objective of defining the future of the .CO TLD. As a result of that process, through Resolution 001652 of 2008, the Ministry approved new policies that would govern the administration of the .CO TLD. A public procurement process began which resulted in the award of the administration contract to .CO Internet SAS. Finally, on February 7, 2010, the administration of the TLD was transitioned from the University of Andes to .CO Internet SAS, under the regulatory and policy supervision of the Ministry of Communications of Colombia.
On July 20, 2010, second level .co domains became available to the rest of the world on a first-come, first-served basis.
In a historic moment for Colombia and the .CO domain extension, ICANN celebrated its 39th International public meeting in Cartagena de Indias from December 5, 2010 through December 10, 2010. The meeting’s host was .CO Internet S.A.S., the registry operator of the .CO domain.
In addition to more than 1000 guests from 100 countries, the meeting was introduced by Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos, Communications Minister Diego Molano, ICANN Chairman Peter Dengate Thrush, and ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom. During his opening remarks, .CO Internet CEO Juan Diego Calle hailed the meeting as one of historic proportion, marking Colombia’s entry into the world stage as a new and significant player in the development of the Internet.
In 2014, .CO Internet S.A.S was acquired by Neustar for US$109 Million, and became a wholly owned subsidiary of Neustar. It is responsible for the promotion, administration, and technical operation of the .co TLD.