Nominet’s Plans for Change

Nominet has announced a programme for ‘evolving the .uk domain name space’

Nominet, the internet company running the .uk internet infrastructure, has announced a range of new initiatives and projects designed to help the company evolve the .uk namespace in the face of a rapidly changing internet landscape.

The domain name market is undergoing a major transition, with a new and more competitive market emerging, driven by the introduction of over 1,000 new top level domains from 2014. The company has been examining the breadth of the products and services it offers, with security and data-quality increasingly important areas of focus. 

Nominet's agenda for the coming months comprises: a proposed addition to the product range by opening up registrations at the second level of .uk (i.e. www.example.uk); a new contract with registrars aimed at raising standards, and a programme to enhance security across the namespace.

The company is also focused on improved member communications and is seeking member support for governance changes that it believes will create an improved Board structure moving forward.

Second-level registrations

Following a public consultation last year, Nominet put its initial plans for second-level .uk domain registrations on hold, whilst feedback and suggestions were considered in depth. 

Nominet has responded by making significant changes to the original direct.uk proposal. The new proposal for second level registrations will be put forward as a consultation on 1 July. The key elements of the new proposal are:

 

·        Enhanced checks on data supplied for all registrations.

·        Requirement to have a UK address for service.

·        Right of first refusal – giving registrants of existing .uk domain names at the third level (eg .co.uk, .me.uk and .org.uk) the right of first refusal to secure the corresponding registration at the second level. In the event of two competing claims, the oldest current registration would be given priority.

·        A commitment to offering services to improve security across the whole namespace. 

·        A competitive price point– with a per wholesale domain annual registration fee of around £5 proposed.

The consultation will close at the end of September 2013 and responses will be published in November.

The company still believes that it is a necessary step to keep the namespace competitive alongside the new gTLDs.  It considers that combining a shorter suffix with the trust of the '.uk' brand will offer a wider choice for both existing .uk registrants and the millions of consumers and businesses who are not yet online, and now want their own online space.  

Nominet sees the revised direct.uk product as an addition to the existing portfolio.  

Enhanced security for all

The feedback received in Nominet's earlier direct.uk consultation clearly said that while enhanced security features were desirable and should be promoted, this should not be mandatory, or restricted to one product. 

Recognising that there is a broad choice of security products in the marketplace and that one size does not fit all, Nominet is now working to ensure that all security options will be available to all the domain names under its management.  Through targeted partnerships and the work of its Research & Development team, it is developing a roadmap of services and products that will help registrants, and particularly small businesses, understand and defend against the threats they face. 

New registrar agreement

A consultation will launch shortly on a new registrar agreement that recognises the diversity of .uk registrars, and is set up in a way that rewards increased standards across the industry.   

Registrars will be able to select from three options - Self Managed; Channel Partner; and Accredited Channel Partner. 

With this agreement, Nominet is proposing to hand over the ability to make free domain name transfers to registrars who meet standards of service and data quality.  It hopes that creating an accredited option, accessible and available to all, will recognise the part every registrar can play in ensuring the .uk namespace continues to thrive.   

Nominet's objective is to finalise a new form of standard contract, prior to the end of the calendar year.

Changes to Nominet's governance

Nominet is proposing changes to its Board structure, which will be decided by Members at the company's forthcoming AGM.  These are:

·        Creating an additional seat for the executive on the Board to bring this in line with a new senior structure. If approved, this will mean giving the executive with responsibility for member and channel engagement and business development - the Chief Commercial Officer – a Board level position. 

·        Extending the term for member-elected Non-Executive directors to three years from 2014 – bringing this into line with the three-year terms for appointed Non-Executive directors. 

·        Removing the six-year limit on non-executive director terms in order that the company can, if appropriate, continue to benefit from accumulated experience and continuity.

Focus on member engagement 

Under the leadership of its new Chief Commercial Officer, Jill Finney, Nominet is creating a new team dedicated to communicating with Nominet's membership, whose views, experiences and support will continue to play a key part in Nominet's success.  

Explaining the company's plans, Nominet CEO Lesley Cowley, OBE, said:

'We have enjoyed considerable success to date but we cannot rest on our laurels or stand still.  The imminent launch of new gTLDs will provide unprecedented competition for .uk domains.  We must respond to the challenges and opportunities in the domain name industry, and be alive to the issues, such as tackling cyber-crime, that are fundamental to the success of the wider digital economy. Our priority is to secure the future of the .uk namespace as an attractive, safe and trusted online home - and we want to work with all our stakeholders toward this common goal. Our programme will ensure that we can continue to invest in – and deliver - an excellent service, improved security, higher standards, and play our part in promoting a strong digital economy.'  

 

 

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