.CA and Canadians

Canadians continue to view .CA in a positive light. Canada’s top-level domain continued to perform well in 2013 with almost 2.1 million .CA domains under management by the end of the second quarter of 2013.

While .CA registrations are up, the pace of growth is slowing. This is to be expected in a mature market sector like the domain name industry. .CA’s growth rate appears to have stabilized since the second quarter of 2012 at about two per cent. In the same period, .COM’s growth rate in Canada shrank by five per cent. .CA maintained this solid growth rate in spite of a continuing global economic downturn and a marketplace that has matured.

.CA’s share of the Canadian TLD market continues to lag behind that of .COM, but is significantly higher than other competitors, such as .NET and .ORG. Following a three-year period of market share gains, .CA’s share has stabilized at 30 per cent. At the same time, .COM’s share of the Canadian TLD market had been continually decreasing, before increasing from a low of 52 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2012 to 56 per cent by the end of the second quarter in 2013.

.CA is the 19th most popular TLD in the world and the 14th most popular ccTLD in the world, with the sixth highest growth rate overall.

Canadian TLD Market Share Q2 2008 - Q2 2013

.CA growth rate and registrations, 2008 to 2013

Other domain names in Canada have enjoyed a stable, albeit comparatively low, market share since 2008. Collectively, .NET, .ORG, .INFO, and .BIZ account for less than 15 per cent of the Canadian domain name market.

French Character Domain Names

In 2013, CIRA began offering .CA domain names that use the following French language characters: é, ë, ê, è, â, à, æ, ô, œ, ù, û, ü, ç, î, ï, ÿ. Known as internationalized domain names (IDNs), the inclusion of these characters make .CA a truly bilingual domain name. There are 426 .CA IDNs registered around the world to date.

This is an indication of a significant change underway on the Internet. As it becomes more accessible by non-English speaker – either through improved access of IDNs – the prominence of the English language on the Internet will diminish. While it is the dominant language on the Internet today, the English-speaking world will soon make up a small minority of the online population.

Canadians tend to relate to .CA’s core brand values of safety and security, and often prefer to use .CA to represent themselves as Canadian online. CIRA’s research shows that Canadians prefer .CA over .COM for personal use by a factor of more than three to one. However, preference for .COM has increased slightly since 2012, with fewer people responding that the domain name ‘wouldn’t matter’ for their personal use.

Domain preference for personal use

Canadians strongly prefer .CA when it comes to either business (49 per cent for .CA versus 17 per cent for .COM) or personal use (54 per cent for .CA versus 10 per cent for .COM) of the internet, particulary banking, shopping and news gathering.

The same pattern can be seen with Canadian small and medium size enterprises domain name preference for business use. Half of the Canadians surveyed who expressed a preference said that they prefer .CA over .COM for business use. Again, preference for .COM is increasing in this category, but also at the expense of those who would state that the domain name doesn’t matter for business use.

As Canadians spend more and more of their lives online, they see the value of .CA as their online identifier. A study by EKOS Research Associates found that Canadians are more attached to their country than the people of any other advanced democracy on Earth. It’s no surprise, then, that 87 per cent of Internet users stated that it is ‘somewhat important’ or ‘very important’ for Canadians to have a .CA. This has been consistent for as long as CIRA has been tracking this information (in 2011, 88 per cent said it was important, and in 2012, 89 per cent said it was important).

Domain preference for business use

Canadians strongly prefer .CA when it comes to either business (49 per cent for .CA versus 17 per cent for .COM) or personal use (54 per cent for .CA versus 10 per cent for .COM) of the internet, particulary banking, shopping and news gathering.

While Canadians don’t generally express a preference for a particular TLD for most activities, they do for those activities that require them to provide personal information online, like shopping and banking. This is not surprising, since safety and security are among the top brand attributes Canadian Internet users assign to .CA.

Canadians also expressed a strong preference for .CA websites for activities like research, accessing government services and getting involved with community organizations. This is likely due to the fact that 58 per cent of Canadians associate .CA with Canadian organizations.

Domain preference by activity

Internet users tend to prefer .CA for activities that require them to provide information online. Those with a preference also tend to prefer .CA for research and getting involved locally.

Canadian Internet users' brand attributes for .CA

While .CA is associated with Canadian businesses and .com with American businesses, .com also tends to be associated with global and large businesses. .CA is more likely than .com to be associated with small not-for-profits.

.CA and Canadian businesses

Since Canadians believe it is important for Canadians to have a .CA, it is not surprising that .CA is more likely to be associated with Canadian businesses:

  • 58 per cent of Canadian Internet users associate .CA with Canadian businesses.
  • Seven per cent associate .CA with large businesses, though 61 per cent say .CA and .COM apply equally for large businesses.
  • Canadians associate.CA with not-for-profit organizations by a factor of two to one. However, the vast majority (70 per cent) associate both .CA and .COM with not-for-profits.

Canadian Internet users support Canadian businesses

More than 7-in-10 internet users agree that they prefer to support Canadian businesses whenever possible.

How important is it for Canadians to have .CA?

Nearly 9 in 10 Canadian Internet users think it is important for Canadians to have .CA.

CIRA’s research shows that .CA makes a good choice for businesses that wish to have an online presence. In fact, more than 70 per cent of online Canadians say that they prefer to support Canadian businesses, whenever possible. And, two thirds of Canadians believe that Canadian businesses and organizations should use .CA websites.

More than half of all Canadians prefer .CA websites over .COM ones because they know .CA is Canadian, again likely due to .CA’s attributes of safety and security.

.CA and customer satisfaction

CIRA has made significant efforts in the past five years to become a ‘customer-focussed’ organization. The results of these efforts are evident:

  • As a registry, CIRA continues to perform well in the eyes of its partners and customers. In 2013, the registry achieved an 86 per cent approval rating from .CA Registrants – an increase of 10 percentage points over the past year.
  • Ninety-seven per cent of .CA Registrants stated they are likely or very likely to renew their .CA domain(s).
  • .CA Registrars (the companies that sell .CAs on behalf of CIRA) also view CIRA in a very positive light, with 99 per cent of them expressing satisfaction with the registry’s services.
  • One hundred per cent of .CA Registrars stated that they were either likely or very likely to recommend .CA.

.CA Registrant customer satisfaction

.CA Registrant customer satisfaction

.CA Registrar customer satisfaction

.CA Registrar customer satisfaction

Source: The Strategic Counsel, Tracking Research, March 2013

By September 2013, there were almost 2.1 million .CA domain names registered By September 2013, there were almost 2.1 million .CA domain names registered

In 2013, CIRA began offering .CA domain names that use French language characters In 2013, CIRA began offering .CA domain names that use French language characters

Canadians prefer .CA over .COM for personal use by a factor of more than three to one Canadians prefer .CA over .COM for personal use by a factor of more than three to one

50% of Canadians with a preference prefer to use .CA for business 50% of Canadians with a preference prefer to use .CA for business

87 per cent of Internet users believe it is important for Canadians to have a .CA 87 per cent of Internet users believe it is important for Canadians to have a .CA

58 per cent of Canadian Internet users associate .CA with Canadian businesses 58 per cent of Canadian Internet users associate .CA with Canadian businesses

More than 70 per cent of online Canadians prefer to support Canadian businesses whenever possible More than 70 per cent of online Canadians prefer to support Canadian businesses whenever possible

In 2013, 97% cent of .CA Registrants stated they are likely or very likely to renew their .CA domain In 2013, 97% cent of .CA Registrants stated they are likely or very likely to renew their .CA domain

100% of .CA Registrars stated that they were either likely or very likely to recommend .CA 100% of .CA Registrars stated that they were either likely or very likely to recommend .CA

The Domain Name System

The Domain Name System (DNS) is a critical piece of Internet infrastructure, matching user-friendly domain names (like cira.ca) with its computer-friendly Internet protocol address (like 192.228.29.1).

CIRA’s .CA DNS handled an average of 669 million queries per day in 2012-2013. This number is similar to the number of queries reported by CIRA in 2011-12; though presenting DNS queries over time is problematic. Queries spike and drop for a number of reasons – from denial of service attacks to spam – so year to year comparisons are not meaningful.

While significant, it’s interesting to note that this represents just a fraction of the activity on the Internet. Globally, Google public DNS alone processes more than 70 billion requests per day.

Average daily DNS queries by month (1,000,000s)

CIRA’s .CA DNS handled an average of 669 million queries per day in 2012-2013 CIRA’s .CA DNS handled an average of 669 million queries per day in 2012-2013

Safety and Security

With that much Internet activity – and much of it tied to the global economy – it is no surprise that there are people and organizations who intend to profit from it in nefarious ways.

Cyber-crime is an increasing problem around the world, and Canada is certainly not immune.

Norton reported that in 2013, cyber-crime cost Canadians $3 billion, up by more than double from $1.4 billion the year before.

In 2013, Canada achieved the dubious distinction of becoming one of the top 10 nations for websites hosting malware. It should be noted that this refers to websites hosted in Canada, not specifically websites with a .CA TLD.

25% increase in Canadian sites hosting malware

Source: Norton

DNSSEC

In an effort to create a safer web experience for Canadians, CIRA has undertaken several initiatives to secure the .CA registry and .CA websites. CIRA reached an important milestone in one of these initiatives, with the implementation of DNSSEC in 2013.

ccTLD DNSSEC status, 2013

ccTLD DNSSEC status, 2013

DNSSEC is the most advanced set of international security extension specifications available. It helps improve the security of the DNS system by ensuring information transferred over the Internet is authentic. All TLDs are increasingly implementing DNSSEC within their registries to enhance security against the ever-evolving threats posed by cybercriminals around the world.

Of the 343 TLDs in the root zone, 149 (43 per cent) are signed, 142 (41 per cent) have trust anchors published as DS records in the root zone.

In Canada, CIRA has built, tested and deployed the underlying infrastructure and processes to be able to offer a signed .CA zone to customers and users. CIRA has implemented DNSSEC support within the .CA registry, and down the road, will work with members of the Canadian Internet community to ensure the full implementation of DNSSEC at their system levels.