Get ready for a backlash — Nominet has committed to start offering second-level domain names under .uk for the first time.
Starting next year, you’ll be able to register example.uk, rather than only third-level names such as example.co.uk and example.org.uk.
Concerns were raised that allowing .uk would allow names to fall into the hands of the wrong people, and that the cost to UK business would be prohibitively high.
“We all want shorter, snappier names,” CEO Lesley Cowley said. “But we appreciate that not everyone shares that view so as a board we had to very carefully consider what’s in the best interest of the public.”
Nominet has introduced a few new ideas that seem to be designed to address these criticisms.
First, every owner of a .co.uk domain name will be given a free five-year reservation on the matching .uk SLD. If you own example.co.uk, you’ll have five years to decide whether to pay for the .uk version.
Cowley told DI that Nominet’s market research suggested that UK businesses repaint their trucks and get new stationery every five years anyway, so the pressure to rebrand around a new domain would be alleviated.
“There was some concern that businesses would feel forced to register a .uk,” she said. “We would not want that to be the case. We want people to consider in their own time whether they want to move.”
In cases where matching .co.uk and .org.uk (or .me.uk etc) domains are owned by different people, the .co.uk gets the free reservation and the .org.uk is locked out for five years.
Where there’s a .org.uk with no matching .co.uk, the .org.uk registrant gets the free reservation, Cowley said.
Domains registered prior to October 28 2013 — when the Nominet board voted on the proposal — will qualify for the free reservation, as will domains registered after that date when there are no colliding third-level domains.
The price for a .uk SLD is to be set at £3.50 for a one-year reg and £2.50 for one year of a multi-year registration. That’s the same as .uk wholesale prices today.
Why do it at all?
While Cowley admitted that .uk registration growth has been slowing recently, something being experienced by many ccTLDs and gTLDs, she said the main reason for the SLD change was demand.
Nominet has done some market research showing only 2% of UK businesses do not want the SLD option in .uk, compared to 72% that do, according to the company.
“People have been saying for some years that it would be good to drop the ‘co’ in .uk,” said Cowley. “It’s clunky. The French and Germans manage to have direct in .fr and .de, so why can’t we do that as well?”