Internet Domain Names Top 205 Million

Country code domain growth slows, but VeriSign sees continued strength in .com and .net.

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted Mar 4, 2011
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The Internet continues to grow as increasing numbers of new domains were registered in 2010. According to the fourth quarter Domain Name Industry Brief from VeriSign, there were 205.3 million domain name registrations at the end of 2010.

The 2010 domain name total represents an increase of 6.3 percent, or 12.1 million new domain name registrations from the 2009 total.

Digging deeper into the stats, different Top Level Domains (TLDs) grew at different rates during the year. County Code TLDs (ccTLDs) ended the year at 80.1 million registrations, an increase of only 0.3 percent on a year-over-year basis. In contrast the .com and .net registries, which are operated by VeriSign, grew in 2010 to 105.2 million domain names, for a 9 percent year-over-year increase.

"The overall growth of ccTLD domain name registrations has slowed somewhat due to a number of factors, including the economic slowdown in various regions as well as some countries implementing new restrictions for registrations," Pat Kane, vice president of naming services at VeriSign told InternetNews.com" .com and .net are global brands and have continued worldwide appeal."

Kane noted that VeriSign is forecasting growth in 7 to 9 percent range for the .com and .net registries in 2011.

VeriSign operates the .com and .net registries under a multi-year contract with ICANN that is set to last until at least 2012. VeriSign also has a contract with ICANN to operate some of the root DNS servers for the Internet.

One key change in 2010 was the approval of Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs). With an IDN, scripts other than the Latin alphabet can be used for TLDs. Kane noted that, so far, IDNs haven't had significant impact on the growth of domain name registrations overall.

"But as the Internet continues to expand globally and local users desire access in their own native scripts, we expect to see the rate of internationalized domain name registrations increase in 2011-2012," Kane said. "The key is to provide a uniform end user experience for global brands such as .com and .net around the world."

From a DNS perspective, VeriSign reported 17 percent year-over-year growth in the fourth quarter of 2010. Peak daily query load was 72 billion DNS queries during the fourth quarter.

Looking forward, DNS query volume is expected to grow in 2011 as service providers ramp up their IPv6 activities.

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