The French region of Brittany wants what the Catalans have: their own Internet suffix. Is .BZH the next regional domain?
Matthieu Crédou was at ICANN's LA meeting to work on .BZH, the Internet domain for the French region of Brittany
Europe is full of regions which, although part of a larger country, remain feverishly independent. The Welsh or the Scottish are an obvious example, many of them still think of themselves as being part of a separate state outside of England. The Catalans have a similar situation but they've gone a step further requesting, and getting, their very own domain on the Internet: .CAT. France also has its proud regions, including Brittany. The local word for the region is "breizh" (pronounced "bray-tze"), often shortened to "bzh". And Brittany is already working on the creation of .BZH. We met Matthieu Crédou, a consultant for the .BZH initiative, at ICANN's Los Angeles meeting to find out more about .BZH.
Matthieu Crédou, why did you come to ICANN's LA Meeting? I work as a consultant for Bretagne Prospective. At the request of the Region of Brittany, our organization is doing a pre-feasibility study on .BZH. The idea of a .BZH was started two years ago by a local MP (Member of Parliament), Christian Menard, after .CAT was announced. .CAT's inspired many local regions…
Following Menard's lead, a group of local web users started a petition on a website called PointBZH.com. To date, more than 15,000 people have signed the online petition. These two initiatives made the regional council sit up and take notice. It voted to officially support .BZH and a Steering Committee was set up to work on the project. Our organization is part of that Committee.
What's the study you're working on supposed to cover? Our report to the Steering Committee will first of all outline what our proposal to ICANN for the creation of .BZH might look like and how it should be structured. It will describe the way ICANN works. It will also look at similar projects that we know of and have been in contact with, like .GAL (Galicia – ed.) and .CYM (Wales – ed.) and examine .CAT in detail.
Who is financing this work and when will your report be finished? A this early stage the region itself is financing the project. But if it goes ahead, we'll be asking local companies and entrepreneurs for help.
Our study was commissioned in September and we're scheduled to go before the steering committee at the end of December. After that, a new team will work on the business plan and the drafting of our proposal to ICANN.
But obviously the future of the .BZH initiative hinges first and foremost on ICANN and whether it will launch a new request for proposals for the creation of new gTLDs.
If things go that far, it's difficult to imagine ICANN giving .BZH the go-ahead without seeing support from the French government. Have you been in contact with them? Christian Menard informed the French prime minister's office of the .BZH initiative early on and recently, French prime minister François Fillon has said he supports the project. And here in LA I've been able to meet with Didier Le Moine, who represented France in the GAC at this meeting.
What kind of domain will .BZH be? Even though our inspiration comes from .CAT, it's unlikely that we would be able to reach the same level of language use, as Catalan is much more widespread that the Brittany region's language. But .BZH aims to highlight the local culture and be a real boost to the Brittany region's community and people. Projects such as .BERLIN or .PARIS have also shown us that those cities consider there's clear value in setting up their name as a "trademark" on the Internet. Brittany has already worked hard to give the term "breizh" a real image (the region even has its own "breizh" cola – ed.) and .BZH should help build this further.