In 1990 Mr. Luis R. Furlán, director of the Center for Applied Computer Studies (CEIA) within the Research Institute of Universidad del Valle de Guatemala (UVG), began searching for a more efficient and economical to maintain contact with fellow researchers abroad. At that time, traditional forms of communication were:
- the telephony
- the telegrams
- the faxes
These forms did not fully met the efficiency and low cost criteria sought, particularly the latter. To do research is necessary to maintain a constant flow of communication, exchange of ideas, data and results.
During a conversation with Mr. Theodore Hope, Mr. Furlán's former student, he suggested to his teacher the posibility to connect the UVG to the fledgling Internet (by then in Latin America), channeled through a project he led from Costa Rica called Hurricane Project. This plan allowed members of educational institutions in Costa Rica to connect to the Internet by the Unix-to-Unix Copy Protocol (UUCP) through the telephone system using modems to connect computers.
Thus, in 1990, using his desktop computer (286 processor, 30 Mbytes hard disk and 640 Kbytes of RAM) 9.6 kbps modem and a Coherent operating system (U.S. $50), Mr. Furlán established the first Internet connection to the Internet from Guatemala. The number of users grew rapidly and the decision was made that the node (domain) of the UVG, had its own name.
Mr. Hope requested to professor John Postel, from the University of Southern California (from where the Internet Assigned Names Authority, IANA, operated; which was responsible for assigning domain names for all the Internet) the Domain name: uvg.edu to be assigned to the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala. Prof. Postel responded by asking that since the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala was the first institution in Guatemala to connect to the Internet, if it would like to be the entity administering the country code top-level domain (ccTLD for its acronym in English), referring to: .gt. Let be recalled that in the early 90's, the Internet was purely a scientific/academic matter and the standard procedure was that a university administered the top level domain name, especially outside the U.S.
After consulting Prof. Postel about the responsibilities and obligations of being the entity representing a ccTLD manager, he said to meet only two conditions:
- Ensure there won't be any duplicated domain names within the ccTLD.
- Ensure fairness in the delegation of domain names under the ccTLD.
For the UVG, these conditions were easy to meet. On one hand, any database management system automatically prevents duplication of names, on the other hand the University being a non-profit, apolitical and secular organization; could guarantee fairness in the delegation of names.
Thus, around 1992, the IANA awarded UVG the custody to manage the Internet space for the ccTLD ".gt". It is important to note that all communications were through email and never was a formal document involved. That was the lifestyle of the Internet then, especially in an environment of research and development, where the relationship was between colleagues and under the premise that the agreement was a "gentleman's agreement" and not under formal documents.
The policy adopted to distribute the ccTLD ".gt" was to use subdomains, the same domains that were used in the United States of America, like:
- .com.gt - for commercial entities.
- .org.gt - mainly for NGOs, international organizations and others.
- .net.gt - for entities who will provide the network infrastructure.
- .edu.gt - for educational institutions recognized by the Ministry of Education and, in the case of higher education institutions recognized by the Council of Private Higher Education (CEPS).
- .gob.gt - for government agencies in Guatemala.
- .mil.gt - for entities of the Armed Forces of Guatemala.
It was also decided to open a subdomain thinking it would be highly sought by individuals who would like to have their own domain name:
- .ind.gt - individuals
It is important to notice that the subdomains:
Are restricted and can only be eligible, institutions that provide reliable documentation of their membership to these sectors.
Are of free access and any institution/organization can register a name under them.
The case of the subdomain .net.gt is special, because it originally was intended to be used solely by entities dedicated to provide network infrastructure. However, during the time that the server (DNS for short in English) was at the National Council for Science and Technology, CONCyT, there was some confusion about it and domain names were granted under this subdomain without restriction. To not look bad to anyone, it was decided to release in its entirety this subdomain and now anyone can register a name under it.
From 1992 until December 1995, the only institution that had a name under the ccTLD ".gt" was the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala. The domain name assigned was uvg.edu.gt. The operation of the domain name server (DNS) was carried out from UUNet in Virginia, USA., because at the time the Guatemalan Telecommunications Company, GUATEL, didn't have the ability to connect the UVG with a dedicated link.
Parallel to this, with the creation in 1991 of the National Council for Science and Technology, CONCyT, and of its National Information and Informatics Commission, started the project called MayaNet who posed the creation of a national scientific/academic network. It was not until December 1995 that GUATEL gave its approval (then it was a monopoly of telecommunications) and formally began operating the Internet in Guatemala, in both the academic and commercial levels.
Since the operation of national coverage, it was considered necessary to install the primary DNS for the ccTLD "gt" at Guatemala. The logical thing was to have it within the UVG but, as mentioned earlier, the central agency of GUATEL didn't have the ability to connect to the UVG with a dedicated link. It was thus decided that the ccTLD's DNS server was installed at the headquarters of CONCyT that, at the time, was just one block away from the central agency of GUATEL. The responsibility for the operation of the DNS was provided by the UVG, but physically it was at the CONCyT.
In 2000, when the UVG already had a robust and dedicated link, it was decided to transfer the operation of the DNS to its central campus to have the entire operation from it. Today the operation is entirely performed at the central campus of the UVG.
One of the recommendations actually made by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the entity that absorbed the IANA, jointly with the World Intellectual Property Organization ( WIPO ), is that administrators of ccTLDs adopt a Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP), for its acronym in English. In this sense, the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala participated in various workshops provided by the WIPO and in 2000 the ccTLD ".gt" became the second country in Latin America to adopt the UDRP
As mentioned earlier, the process of delegating the ccTLD to UVG was conducted through simple email messages. With the rise of the Internet, the globalization and commercialization, a more formal relationship with ICANN. was needed. Thus in 2006, the ICANN and the UVG signed a framework agreement in which ICANN formally recognizes the delegation made in 1992 to the UVG, and with it the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala agrees to operate under the rules and policies the ICANN.
The Universidad del Valle de Guatemala, as administrator of the ccTLD ".gt", is an active member of the Latin American and the Caribbean ccTLDs Organization (LACTLD) by its acronym in English, and the Country Code Names Supporting Organization (ccNSO) by its acronym in English, of ICANN.