With its landmark registration made and international recognition given in 1994, Vietnam’s national domain .vn has seen remarkable growth over the past several years.
In 1993, Tran Ba Thai, one of the pioneers of the Internet in Vietnam, along with his group at NetNam, which became the country’s first Internet services provider, worked closely with Professor Rob Hurle and his associates from the Australian National University, a national research university in Canberra, to conduct experiments to connect computers in Vietnam and Australia through landline phone lines.
The experiments were a success, delivering the earliest experiences of the Internet to Vietnamese users, who could then use their own email boxes, though with the Australian domain .au. as Vietnam’s domain .vn had not yet been registered.
While working with agencies in the Philippines, Prof. Hurle learned that the .ph domain had been registered by an individual user, who wanted the government to buy it from him for a huge sum.
Foreseeing a similar predicament in Vietnam, he advised Thai to register for the .vn domain.
Without a direct communication channel to register for the domain at the Asia Pacific Network Information Center (APNIC), an organization that manages the assignment of Internet number recourses in Asia, Thai and Professor Tran Van Dac, then head of the Technology Development Department under the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment, collectively approved the application and authorized Prof. Hurle to work with APNIC.
The approval was said to be a ‘courageous act,’ as the introduction of the Internet remained disputed and was even considered illegal at that time.
With the Australian professor’s assistance, the registration was a milestone.
“After securing the national domain, we established the first email server with the .vn domain now directly connected to the global grid, officially adopting it on the country’s pilot network,” Thai, the former NetNam director, recalled.
Despite the Internet not being officially recognized and licensed in Vietnam until late 1997, the Southeast Asian country had enjoyed the ownership and international recognition of the .vn domain since 1994.
The new domain came after the Australian .au domain had been ‘borrowed’ for a short time thanks to the scientists’ dedication.
The acquisition of the new domain is to this day considered a national resource by experts and leaders of government agencies.
Between 1994 and 1995, Internet users in the country could all switch to or register for second-level domains under the national .vn domain.
The Institute of Information Technology, under the current Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology, was initially in charge of the .vn domain.
NetNam, a group of scientists from the institute, was tasked with overseeing the domain until 1997.
Following the official launch of the Internet in Vietnam in 1997, the domain’s management was handed over to the National Administration of Posts (now the Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group).
The national Internet address is currently under the supervision of the Vietnam Internet Network Information Center (VNNIC), founded in 2000 under the Ministry of Information and Communications.
|The National Server Center stationed in the central city of Da Nang. Courtesy of VNNIC|
According to the latest update published on VNNIC, 418,534 .vn subdomains are currently maintained on the Internet.
More than 100 new registrations for subdomains in the Vietnamese language are now recorded each month, compared to merely a few dozen back in 1997.
Since 2000, the VNNIC has been tasked with establishing, overseeing and exploiting two key infrastructures of the country’s Internet, namely the National Domain Name System (DNS) and Vietnam National Internet eXchange (VNIX).
In the event of technical glitches that shut down the DNS for just a few seconds, access to Internet services adopting the .vn domain such as websites and emails will disappear without warning.
Nguyen Hong Thang, VNNIC deputy director, revealed that Vietnam’s server system carrying the national domain currently comprises seven server clusters.
Five of them are installed in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang.
The remaining two are placed abroad with over 70 spots in major cities across five continents which see the highest density of Vietnamese expats and the most frequent access to the .vn domain.
According to the VNNIC, the .vn domain encountered difficulties competing with its foreign counterparts between 2000 and 2005.
The percentage of websites adopting the .vn domain out of the entire .vn domain space accounts for over 50 percent, with the most common ones including gov.vn (81.31 percent), edu.vn (74.48 percent) and org.vn (68.92 percent).
The ratio of the .vn domain against foreign domains in Vietnam is currently 50-50.
For years since 2011, the .vn domain has always had the highest number of registrations across the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and been listed among Asia’s Top 10.
|Inside the National Server Center located in Hanoi. Courtesy of VNNIC|
The national domain
.vn is the top level domain for Vietnam. Second-level domains are of equal value and meant to identify Internet addresses for servers registered in Vietnam.
The second-level domain, beneath the .vn, consists of those that are categorized and those that are not categorized into sectors, as follows:
- com.vn and - biz.vn: intended for commercial organizations and individuals
- edu.vn: for organizations and individuals operating in the education and training sector
- gov.vn: for state organizations and agencies at central and local levels
- net.vn: for organizations and individuals operating in the Internet-related sector
- org.vn: for organizations and agencies functioning in politics, culture and social issues
- int.vn: for international organizations operating in Vietnam
- ac.vn: research fields
- pro.vn: highly specialized areas
- info.vn: production, distribution and provision of information
- health.vn: medical, pharmaceutical fields
- name.vn: meant for individual Internet users
Other domain names are stipulated by the Ministry of Information and Communications.