Nominet has finally followed through on its promised delivery of shorter .uk domains, with a five-year right of refusal for existing .co.uk address owners
Nominet, the non-profit company that manages UK web addresses, has officially made .uk addresses available from Tuesday, following controversy around the domain plans that led it to revise the way the addresses would be offered to the public.
The move brings the UK into line with most other countries, which offer domains ending in two-letter suffixes, such as, for example, .de for Germany and .fr for France. Until now, British top-level domains were longer, including .org.uk, .co.uk and .me.uk.
“By introducing .uk as a stand-alone domain we are simply providing another option for people to build their online success story with us,” Nominet said in a statement.
The company said the shorter domains are catchier for brands, and may seem less “corporate”.
During a consultation period, the launch of .uk was criticised by some, who argued it would create confusion and devalue the large existing body of domains ending in .co.uk. As a result, Nominet is giving all owners of .co.uk addresses the option of first refusal on the equivalent .uk address for a period of five years, during which time those addresses will be unavailable to the general public.
The measure was introduced to stop cyber-squatters buying up addresses and then reselling them to owners of the equivalent .co.uk domains at a mark-up.
Nominet has begun alerting .co.uk domain holders to the change, with publicity campaign including a sign reading “welcometothe.uk”, positioned near Heathrow’s main runway, that the company claims is the largest of its kind in the world.
The new addresses are priced the same as .co.uk domains, with Nominet charging £3.50 for a single year and £2.50 for multi-year registrations. Users can buy the new domains from domain name registrars.
Nominet lists television presenter Stephen Fry as the first owner of a .uk domain, having switched to the new address from stephenfry.com after long criticising the absence of shorter addresses.
“Fret no more, people of Britain. The day of .uk is upon us. And team stephenfry.com — as with all things — is proud to be ahead of the curve, or at least cresting it,” Fry said in a statement.
One of the side-effects of the introduction of the new generic top-level domain has been the creation of one of the world’s shortest web addresses, x.uk, which is expected to sell for around £10 million, the highest price ever paid for a UK web address.
As a result of Nominet’s policy, x.uk was automatically offered to the owner of x.co.uk, insurance entrepreneur Simon Burgess, who told The Daily Telegraph that he has already turned down an offer of more than £5m.
Burgess said he had been contacted by interested Chinese organisations, since “x” is occurs frequently in latinised Chinese words. X.com is owned by PayPal, which used the x.com brand before adopting the name PayPal in 2000.
Nominet says some 10.5 million UK domains have been registered, with around 2 million new registrations each year.
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