The UK’s favourite internet namespace is expanding as the body responsible for.uk domain names – Nominet – has approved plans to offer registrations directly before the ‘dot’ in .uk.
From summer 2014, shorter, simpler ‘example.uk’ domain names will be available for the first time alongside ‘example.co.uk’, ‘example.org.uk’ and so on. This represents the biggest modification of the .uk namespace since it began.
Any unique ‘example.uk’ domain name (e.g. one that does not have an equivalent name already registered as a .co.uk or a .org.uk) will be available on a first-come, first served basis from launch.
Over ten million existing .uk customers will be offered the shorter equivalent of their current address, with five years to decide whether they want to use it in addition to, or instead of the domain they already have. In the small proportion of instances where there could be competition – e.g. where one person holds example.co.uk and another holds example.org.uk – the shorter domain will be offered to the .co.uk registrant.
The five-year free reservation period is designed to help businesses taking up the new domain do so at a time that coincides with when they next change signage or stationary, so they don’t incur unnecessary incremental costs.
The wholesale price for the new domains will be £3.50 per year for single year registrations and £2.50 per year for multi-year registrations. This is the same price as a current co.uk domain, ensuring the cost of a domain name will remain a very small proportion (around 1.5% for a small business) of the cost of being online.
All Nominet’s existing domains (.co.uk, .org.uk, .net.uk, .me.uk, .plc.uk, .ltd.uk and sch.uk) will continue to run as normal.
The move brings the UK in line with other large country-code registries, like Germany’s .de or France’s .fr. A recent Nominet survey of UK business decision makers found that 72% thought direct ‘example.uk’ registrations should be an option, while only 2% thought they shouldn’t.
“The .uk namespace is one of the most popular and trusted available and we’re committed to ensuring it stays up-to-date and relevant,” Nominet CEO Lesley Cowley said. “We’re excited to offer the option of a shorter, snappier domain name that we believe will appeal to both our existing customers and the businesses and bloggers of tomorrow.”
Nominet is planning a major programme of communication and outreach with its customers to ensure people are aware of the changes, and intends to announce a definitive launch date by February 2014.
The news is part of a broader programme of work announced by Nominet today. The company is committed to driving innovation, enhancing security and improving standards in the .uk namespace, in the face of a rapidly changing internet landscape.
The international domain name market is set to become more liberalised and competitive, with over 1,000 new suffixes becoming available in the next year.
More information on the decision is available here.