Whether online businesses in the UK like it or not - Dot-UK registry Nominet is now bringing second-level namespaces to life.
The Oxford-based outfit said today that, from next summer, companies would be able to bid for the shorter domain names.
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It said that Nominet's existing 10 million .uk customers would be offered the shorter equivalent of their current address.
Those businesses will have five years to decide whether they want to ditch their current namespace in favour of the stubbier one, or to use the shorter version alongside their current domain.
The five-year free reservation period is designed to help businesses taking up the new domain do so at a time that coincides with when they next change signage or stationary, so they don’t incur unnecessary incremental costs.
The wholesale price for the new domains will be £3.50 per year for single year registrations and £2.50 per year for multi-year registrations. This is the same price as a current co.uk domain, ensuring the cost of a domain name will remain a very small proportion (around 1.5 per cent for a small business) of the cost of being online.
Meanwhile, registrars who own a .co.uk address will get preferential treatment over owners of .org domain names.
"In the small proportion of instances where there could be competition – e.g. where one person holds example.co.uk and another holds example.org.uk – the shorter domain will be offered to the .co.uk registrant," Nominet said.
The company's boss Lesley Cowley claimed that Nominet was "upping the bar for security, data quality and the way we engage with our registrars".
It plans to debut new security tools for customers to apparently "enhance" the protection of their domain portfolios early in 2014. Registrars will also be offered additional security controls to help prevent their domains being hacked later next year, Nominet said.
The company has also drawn up a data quality policy and a new registrar agreement. Domain name owners have until 20 December to wade in with comments before Nominet adopts the changes next year.
Some registrars have previously said there was little appetite for the namespace changes.
Inevitably, biz peeps have already complained about Nominet's .uk decision by arguing that it was motivated by greed – an accusation that Nominet denies.
Others on the micro-blogging site similarly characterised it as a "blatant money grab" or as Nominet's "new cash cow". ®