Nominet create a new gTLD & disrupt the .UK internet

Nominet, on it’s new shiny website has this morning announced that it is considering, and commencing a consultation on, the potential introduction of the top level domain .UK on its own (ie .org etc required). Its calling the service “direct .uk” and (initially at least) limiting it to “businesses”.

Our initial reaction is that this:

  • pidgeons the cat the Puts amongst
  • box Pandora’s Opens
  • of bag cat the the Lets out

Rearrange etc etc and add to, as you please.

Very briefly and no doubt inadequately we think the proposed “direct .uk” service comprises:

  • “”Businesses” being allowed to buy from registrars at an increased price the second level domain .uk eg (Nominet currently charge £5 for 2 years, sort of wholesale, for type domains to registrars and envisage a comparable figure of sub £20 per annum for this service)
  • Third level domains can be set up by the acquiring business but may not be resold and there will be certain restrictions (eg no .co or .org etc etc but we guess or might be allowed)
  • There will be a ”light touch” (in our view) regulation requiring a UK physical address to be provided in connection with registration.
  • There will be certain security features bundled with the domains acquisition ( eg monitoring of malware and viruses will be regularly undertaken and reported to owners + site digital signing arrangements).
  • A trusted “kitemark” will be provided for inclusion on .uk sites.
  • If  the service goes ahead there will be an initial application process recognising pre-existing registered rights eg trademarks (phase 1), then unregistered rights (which would include existing domain ownership), (Phase 2) followed by a landrush phase (3) after which there would be general availability.
  • A process similar to that used for Nominet’s short domain release some 18 months ago would apply.
  • Multiple qualifying applications at the first 2 phases would again go to auction.

To view their proposals and respond to the consultation (7 January 2013 latest) Nominet suggest:

“You can respond to the consultation either by completing an online form, by downloading the consultation and emailing your comments to  or by requesting a hard copy of the consultation from

Nominet describes itself (Who is Nominet?) in the consultation document in the FAQ section as follows:

“Nominet is the private, not-for-profit business internet business that is best known for running the .uk registry which comprises more than 10 million domain names. We provide a public service for the .uk namespace on behalf of the UK internet community and are commited to consulting with our stakeholders on any change in policy.”

The new website in the What we do area say “As a public purpose internet company, we have been running the .uk, country code Top Level Domain name registry since 1996 and will be running the .wales and .cymru domains from 2013. This includes protecting, promoting and supporting the online presence of more than 10 million domain names.”

Nominet UK is  a company limited by guarantee,  and describes itself in the Who we are section as follows “Our structure reflects the fact that as a private, public purpose company, we have members rather than shareholders. Any organisation with an interest in the internet can become a member by paying a subscription fee.” The new website gives a, we think partial, listing of the members (ie we couldn’t count the 2,800 mentioned elsewhere).

So lots of “business” in their first definition but at the end of the day, in our view, it is not a commercial business. (eg likely many commercial concerns would have consistency of description in its externally published communications  “What we do” “Who is Nominet” etc etc)!

Most, if not all, of the customers of the proposed “direct .uk” service will be businesses.

In our experience most, particularly large, or monopolistic businesses will have thought through in depth, any possible major policy changes before potentially disrupting its customer base. If  transparent they might even commission and publish external research, advice and opinions received on the proposed change.

We think Nominet may have quite a bit of persuading to do to get overwhelming support for their proposals from its main customer base – UK business!

We leave you with their video. (Link only – apparently per Nominet “….. our website does not allow us to share or embed videos with other sites” UPDATE October 3.

Nominet have, following our request “arranged for the video to be posted on YouTube”. Thanks

We encourage everyone to give it as wide a circulation as possible. This is the YouTube link

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