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Here's the The Lowdown from DN Journal,
updated daily
to fill you in on the latest buzz going around the domain name industry. 

The Lowdown is compiled by DN Journal Editor & Publisher Ron Jackson.

Veteran British Domain Investor Edwin Hayward Sounds Off on Nominet's Decision to Offer New .UK Domains 

Nominet,  the administrator of Great Britain's popular .uk ccTLD, set off a firestorm last year when they announced they wanted to allow people to register names in the top level .uk extension (historically, .uk registrations have been available only in second level extensions, most notably the universally recognized .co.uk.

Operators of current .co.uk websites were shocked because Nominet's original proposal did not give then any "grandfathered" rights to their name in .uk, leaving the door open for a new registrant to benefit from brands equity built entirely by someone else

Adding insult to injury, even if the current 

UK flag image from Bigstock 

.co.uk owner could get their name in .uk, the proposed cost for the new domains was eight times higher than .co.uk.

As anyone would expect, .co.uk owners immediately took up arms (with one of England's most senior industry veterans, Edwin Hayward, among those at the forefront of the protest). Nominet backed off and began revising their strategy. After moving to a second set of proposed rules, then a third, Nominet finally announced on Wednesday (Nov. 20, 2013) that .uk domains are coming next year but with a substantially different set of rules than were first proposed. Current .co.uk owners will retain rights to their names in .uk for five years and the price for a .uk will be the same as it has been for .co.uk.

Edwin Hayward

To see if the changes are enough to mollify Nominet's critics, I called on Mr. Hayward to find out what he thought about Nominet's new plan for .uk. "There's so much "support" material alongside the summaries that Nominet has put out that I've barely scratched the surface, including the full text of many responses to the last consultation, as well as third party case studies and summaries," Hayward noted. "That said, I feel that - if you pre-suppose a need for .uk to go ahead at all - then the final revision Nominet has decided on is significantly better than the V2 consultation, which in turn was significantly better than the proposal in the V1 consultation round."  

Hayward continued, "Given that the "right of refusal" is now set at 5 years, this will give companies and domain investors plenty of time to evaluate the take-up of .uk and choose to 

exercise their option to acquire the matching .uk at a timing of their convenience. It will also potentially save eligible businesses a significant amount of money that might otherwise need to be spent on "warehousing" names until it's clear whether they want to use them or not."

"The difference between the V2 period (6 months) and the final five year period represents up to 4.5 years worth of reg fees, i.e. a total of approximately 19/domain ($30/domain) saved on a wholesale basis vs. V2, and significantly more on a retail basis. (That figure is a maximum, and assumes that the option to register the domain is taken up on the very last day of the 5 year period)."

Hayward added, "While the following is speculation on my part, it's also long enough for Nominet to see if the security concerns (phishing, misdirected emails etc.) materialize to any great extent and if so, I presume they might still have the option of extending that 5 year period to keep the domain names in question out of general availability and so preclude any such security issues from occurring. I have no indication that they would choose to do so, but the timing is sufficiently long so as to afford Nominet the flexibility of a real evaluation of the new extension "in situ" in the real world."

"The pricing disparity has also been addressed, with the new .uk domains at parity with .co.uk and other UK namespace extensions. This maintains the significant discount to .com pricing that UK namespace domain owners have always enjoyed, and is most welcome," Hayward said.

"Nominet have crafted the cutoff period rules very carefully, so as not to advantage anyone with knowledge of the final decision. Only domains registered prior to 28 October 2013 have any eligibility for the corresponding .uk, except under certain very carefully defined 

Union Jack keyboard image from Bigstock

circumstances - and .co.uk holders have been given priority, a decision which reflects the huge sums of money that UK businesses have spent collectively over the years effectively "branding" .co.uk on behalf of Nominet," Hayward noted.

"Perhaps conscious of the levels of criticism leveled against them during the lengthy consultation process, Nominet have clearly put a huge amount of effort into communicating not just the final decision, but the logic and rationale behind it, and the supporting evidence used in reaching that decision. I commend this effort." (Editor's note: This paper (.pdf file) sets out Nominet's logic for proceeding with a .uk rollout and this FAQ page on Nominet's site will answer the most frequently asked questions about it). 

In closing, Hayward said, "Overall, I believe that the status quo would still have served UK business interests better but, given that a decision had been taken to proceed with launching .uk, the final proposal is pretty close to the best case scenario for such a launch. As such, I'd give it a cautious thumbs up. It's certainly very nice to see the cloud of uncertainty that was hanging over the UK namespace dissipate, that's for sure!"  

(Posted November 21, 2013)

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