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Up to 70 jobs on the line at Nominet as .uk regs dwindle

Kevin Murphy, March 13, 2024, 13:19:16 (UTC), Domain Registries

Nominet plans to lay off as many as 70 employees to cut costs, and is preparing for a .uk price increase, after years of dwindling domain registrations and the loss of a major government contract.

CEO Paul Fletcher told members yesterday that it won’t be providing the UK government with its Protective DNS recursive DNS service, PDNS, after its contract ends later this year. He implied that the government has selected a cheaper competitor to replace it, without giving details.

The deal was with the UK National Cyber Security Centre, and saw Nominet resolve half a trillion DNS queries a year for central government and other public services.

Nominet had been banking on this “cyber” business to bolster revenue in the face of “static or reduced demand for domains”, but the contract loss means some serious belt-tightening is in order, Fletcher indicated.

In its last financial year, Nominet said its cyber business had revenue of £12.6 million but had a loss of £2.4 million

“The changes that we are proposing to give us a sustainable cost base mean that up to 70 of our current roles could be made redundant,” he told members in an email. “While this would be partially offset by some redeployment opportunities, our overall headcount will reduce.”

He added that members should expect the price of .uk domains to increase in future, without giving a timetable.

“Our pricing will remain at current level of £3.90 until at least the end of the year, extending the freeze in place since 2021,” he wrote, but added that lower volume means “prices cannot be held at the level set in January 2020 indefinitely.”

Nominet had 10,688,932 .uk domains under management at the end of January, down from 11,045,559 a year earlier (a loss of almost a thousand domains a day) and its 2019 peak of 13,348,378.

Fletcher also delivered the news that one of its longest-serving staffers, registry managing director Eleanor Bradley, will leave the company later this year.

Finally, he said the company has successfully challenged a default court judgment (pdf) ordering it to repay a member’s subscription fees, a ruling that had been put forward as proof that Nominet has been breaking the law by charging membership fees for the last quarter-century.

Fletcher said the judgment came because Nominet had no idea it had been sued, adding: “On 31 January, we successfully applied to have the default judgment set aside in the County Court, having made every effort to avoid unnecessary, costly and time-consuming court proceedings. This ruling, which the claimant is appealing, allows us to defend the original claim.”

The lawsuit came as part of a campaign operated at that seeks to prove Nominet’s membership and voting structure is illegal.

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