In October last year, Nominet, the organisation that administers all domain names ending in .uk, announced that in addition to names like .co.uk and .org.uk, it was planning to offer domain names under ending just in .uk.
This would mean you could buy www.yourcompanyname.uk, for instance.
In the domain name industry this is called a second level registration. It's never before been offered in the UK.
Back last year, Nominet invited comments on its plan. And earlier this year, the organisation acted on that feedback, releasing this statement:
'Following our board meeting yesterday, we are not proceeding with our original proposal on 'direct.uk' but we will respond to feedback by looking at whether a revised proposal will address issues raised in the recent consultation.'
There's no doubt that being able to register a domain under .uk is an attractive concept. After all, the USA has had .us, Japan .jp and China .cn for quite some time. The UK is behind the pack in that respect.
The shorter a domain name is, the more memorable it becomes. Dropping the .co from .co.uk would not only make the domain name itself shorter, but would also allow a more prominent affiliation with the UK marketplace.
A key concern raised in the comments was that existing domain owners were not given priority.
This meant that if you already owned example.co.uk, you wouldn't necessarily be able to secure example.uk. If you were running a business from your .co.uk domain, and one of your competitors purchased the .uk, there could be real issues.
The security features in the initial proposal were important too:
- Respondents generally supported the idea that the addresses of domain owners should be validated. This should ensure that the person registering the domain name is who they say they are, making website owners more accountable for their domains.
- However, the proposed daily malware scans - to check websites for security issues - are likely to be problematic. They would increase the cost of a .uk domain, and it would be hard to make them truly effective and foolproof.
A new domains plan
After reviewing all the feedback, Nominet released a new, revised plan for .uk domain registration.
The new proposal contains a number of processes to help alleviate any previous concerns:
- All .uk registrations will be subject to an 'enhanced check'. This is to ensure that the registrant is who they say they are.
- A right of first refusal will apply to .uk domains. Existing owners of domains ending in .uk will be given first refusal on the new, equivalent second level .uk domain. If you own the .co.uk, but someone else owns the .org.uk or the .me.uk, the 'oldest current, continuous registration' will be given the right of first refusal.
- Nominet will aim for a competitive price point. This is £5.50 for single year registrations and £4.50 per year for multiple year registrations. That's the wholesale price, so owners of domains would be likely to pay a bit more.
A further consultation on these revised plans will run until 23 September 2013, when we'll no doubt hear about further feedback.
What would you say if you were going to have your comment? Would you like to own a .uk domain in the future?
Domains are changing
It's an interesting time for the domain name industry. Not only is Nominet making changes, but the global domain market is changing.
Plans to create many new domain extensions - like .london, .nyc and .hotels - are well under way, and you'll see hundreds of these appearing in the coming years.
Against this background, there's no doubt Nominet needed to make a move. Thankfully, that's what they've done.
Companies offering UK domain name registration:
Sam Barnes is from Domain Monster.