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The recent decision by Nominet to forge ahead with the introduction of new .uk domains has not been met with widespread approval, to say the least.
Nominet's own consultations uncovered strong oppostion to the plans, but this was apparently not enough to force a rethink.
I've been asking Matt Mansell, Head of Domain Strategy at its parent company Host Europe Group about his views.
How will the new .uk domains benefit 123-reg?
Nominet’s decision to introduce .uk domains will provide shorter .uk domains to our customer base.
The move will allow 123-reg the opportunity to continue to present an ever growing number of UK SMEs an alternative and affordable way of getting their businesses online with a .uk domain.
In the most recent consultation, Nominet quotes that 'two-thirds were in the most part against the proposal'. Given this strong opposition, why do you think Nominet decided to go ahead with the plan?
We can’t answer for Nominet.
Would you advise website owners to drop the .co.uk domain once they have the .uk version? Why?
Our advice for online businesses and individuals is to always protect their brand online in much the same way that we advise businesses to purchase the ‘monopoly’ set of the top three domains (.com, .net .org) and their local ccTLD.
Businesses will likely view the shorter .uk as an extension of their online presence in the short term and then their adoption and visibility on our high streets will drive any transition longer term.
The landmark change will afford more than 10m existing customers a shorter and more unique extension, an extension that brings the United Kingdom into line with major European countries like France (.fr) and Germany (.de).
For those businesses and individuals that have the existing .co.uk, they can now purchase a shorter domain name.
Beyond the 'choice' that has been mentioned, what actual business benefits exist for current websites/businesses on .co.uk domains?
Choice is important. Alongside this, the UK will fall into line with other major European countries (mentioned above) by offering a shorter, more memorable domain name that will help define owners as part of the UK.
The change will continue to support online trading for businesses, showcasing the strength of the UK’s digital economy.
Have you seen much demand for the new domains?
Clearly there is significant demand for new domains. Excitement and intrigue for the new gTLD programme has demonstrated that there is an appetite within the market from consumers for new domains.
Whilst it is important to point out that there is a clear difference between ICANN’s changes and Nominet’s decision, the internet is opening up further and this is being driven by consumer demand and a lack of availability in the spaces that exist today.
Do the changes devalue the existing .co.uk domain? If not, why not?
The .co.uk domain is long established in the UK market. The announcement will open up further space for businesses and that can, and no doubt will, sit alongside the .co.uk.
How will this benefit online businesses? How will the benefits outweigh the extra costs and confusion?
The main benefit to online businesses will be to keep UK web users and businesses more aligned to the international standards we see with other TLDs and with a shorter, more memorable address.
We don’t support the view that it will be confusing or costly, we support the voice of our customers who overwhelmingly told us they would like to see a shorter domain for the .uk space.
There are many domain choices already and quite literally thousands about to come on to the market with the new gTLD programme. It will be about choice, relevance and availability.
I’m sure the Internet’s addressing system will look very different in five years’ time and we are embracing that evolution.