Incredible as it seems that is pretty much the way it is(was)
credit to

A dispute between the University of Bogota and reseller Net Registrar has resulted in the domain being deleted and up to 8,000 users having their web and email services cut off.

Not to be confused with, Net Registrar won a tender from the University in 2001 to develop and sell domains within the space - .co being the country code top level domain for Colombia. The plan was to pitch the domain at businesses that had missed out on the more commonly used address or as blocking domains to hoover up mistyped web addresses. (see: .co - the co-mmercial alternative?)

All was going well, with Net Register reportedly selling over 8,000 domains, until the Colombian government - unhappy with the privatisation of Columbia's domain name system - decreed in July 2002 that the Minister of Communications would take over the administration of the domain no later than December 2003.

Therefore in December 2002, the University informed Net Registrar of the imminent transfer and tried to draw up a new contract between it and the company to "safeguard [customer's] registrations … for a short period of time to allow … sufficient time to transition to alternative domain names." While Net Registrar immediately put a stop to new registrations and tried to get assurances from all involved over the future of their customers' domains, they were apparently unable to come to a mutual agreement with the University. A statement on the University's web site tersely puts it thus:

Net Registrar failed to agree the terms of that new arrangement. This means that as a result of our agreement with Net Registrar having terminated, Net Registrar is no longer entitled to operate sub-domains and therefore Net Registrar is not entitled to permit you to use the domain names that you had registered with them.

Given that it is highly likely that Net Registrar would retain the domain name even after the transfer to the Government - who are keen to encourage foreign investment - the University's actions could be seen as somewhat idiosyncratic.

Net Registrar are now calling in the lawyers to try and reach a resolution but in the meantime, their customers are without web and email services.

These reports highlight the problems of businesses relying on a third-level domain name when the second-level is privately owned or relying on a foreign country code - sold as an "alternative" to conventional names. If problems occur, companies can suddenly find their domain is really on the other side of the world; in a different legal jurisdiction and not really owned by them - hardly an enviable situation to be in when email and web services abruptly disappear.