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Nominet To Finally Introduce Shorter ‘.uk’ Domain In 2014

Max 'Beast from the East' Smolaks covers open source, public sector, startups and technology of the future at TechWeekEurope. If you find him looking lost on the streets of London, feed him coffee and sugar.

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Businesses will be able to register for .uk domains from next summer

Nominet, the non-profit registry responsible for managing the UK domain name space, has announced plans to introduce a shorter ‘.uk’ country code Top-Level Domain (ccTLD) next summer.

The new ccTLD will allow businesses and individuals to register shorter website addresses, which will cost as much as the current ‘.co.uk’ names – £3.50 for a single year and £2.50 when registered for several years.

The change to the British domains is coming as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is rolling out more than a thousand new generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs), including those in non-Latin scripts, with London is set to become one of the first cities in the world to launch its own city domain name -‘.london’.

Victory for common sense

ronfromyorkAccording to a survey by Nominet, 72 percent of business decision makers think shorter ccTLD registrations should be an option, while only two percent are against it. The organisation has wanted to introduce new domain names for a while, but the process was delayed in February, in order to explore various options as to how registration should be implemented.

“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,” said Nominet CEO Lesley Cowley. “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.”

The change finally brings the UK in line with France’s ‘.fr’ and Germany’s ‘.de’ and Nominet calls it “the biggest modification of the .uk namespace since it began”.

All’.co.uk’ domains will still remain operational after the summer 2014 and existing customers will be offered the shorter equivalent of their current domain with five years to decide if they want to take it up. This period is being introduced to help prevent abuse of the system and make sure businesses do not incur unnecessary costs.

In rare instances where several organisations have registered ‘competing address’ – like ‘website.co.uk’ and ‘website.org.uk’ – the new domain will be offered to the ‘.co.uk’ registrant. Any unique domain name with the new ccTLD will be available on a first-come, first served basis.

Registrar approval

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 organisation has also revealed its intention to develop tools that will enhance the security of the UK domain name space and has published a revised draft of the Registrar Agreement and proposed a new Data Quality policy, with both documents now open for comment.

123-reg, the UK’s most popular domain registrar, says that Nominet’s confirmation of the new domain will benefit SMEs and support the growth of the UK’s digital economy. “Combining a shorter suffix with the trust of the ‘.uk’ brand will mean wider choice, and more potential opportunities for those businesses who want their own online space. ‘.uk’ will no doubt help to create greater trust in the UK online community and provide a platform to showcase British talent,” comments Matt Mansell, head of Domain Strategy for Host Europe Group, the parent company of 123-reg.

While it is currently impossible to register a ‘.uk’ domain name, there are a currently a few addresses using the suffix in operation that were registered prior to the formation of Nominet, with nhs.uk being one of the more obvious examples.

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