Despite the Bangladesh government having acquired the dot Bangla (.bangla) domain after contesting neighbouring Indian state of West Bengal and the African country of Sierra Leone, it has not gained popularity.
Experts claim the domain failed to attract people as it is not user friendly.
Originally, policy makers assumed that people would greatly appreciate the domain because one can type web addresses under it in Bangla. In reality, this has proven to not be the case. There are currently only 442 users of the .bangla domain as of January 2018.
A Bangladesh Telecommunications Company Ltd (BTCL) source said that around 8,000 customers had applied for the .bangla domain since its launch in December 2016. Among them, only 800 clients or companies were deemed eligible to receive the .bangla domain, with the rest of the applicants rejected by the BTCL during verification, due to either a lack of proper documents or names that clashed with those of other companies.
Recently, BTCL cancelled the domains of nearly fifty percent of the users due to irregularities. The remaining users of the .bangla are mainly private organisations or companies.
Though the government expects public organisations to use the domain, none of the government offices are using .bangla for their websites.
Some of the problems that come with using the .bangla domain include the requirements for an account on the BTCL website with no means to recover forgotten passwords, various documents when applying to buy the domain, a Bangla web address and content which raises compatibility issues, and the domain not being sold to individuals.
“Anyone can apply for a domain, but BTCL only wants real applicants. There are some fraudulent people who buy domains just to hoard interesting names with the aim of selling it for an inflated price when an entrepreneur needs it,” said a senior official at the BTCL asking to remain unnamed.
“As a government organization, we should always check for the proper usage of domains and create a scope for real companies,” he added.
When contacted, BTCL public relations director Mir Mohammad Morshed told the Dhaka Tribune, “We have already taken some steps to popularize the .bangla domain across the country.”
One of the first steps in this regard was the formation of a central cell to promote the .bangla domain. The cell is to be extended to the division, district and upazila levels shortly.
Shahidul Islam, an official of the .bangla promotion cell, told the Dhaka Tribune that use of the domain would rapidly increase once the cell was expanded across the country.
“The cabinet division has already issued an order to all government offices to use the .bangla domain,” he said.
He added that the BTCL will provide technical support to private organizations if they need assistance with domain, as well as with linking .bd and .bangla domains for ease of viewing.
The Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) approved .bangla as the internationally recognized domain for Bangladesh on October 5, 2016, after the country beat out competition from West Bengal and Sierra Leone.
Bangladesh had previously received approval to use the domain in 2012, but the domain was marked as not assigned after a few years as the government failed to make it active.
The most popular domain used in Bangladesh is .bd, with 43,420 users, while .bangla is a distant second.