Internet Domain Names Top 205 Million

By Sean Michael Kerner | Mar 4, 2011 | Print this Page
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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.

IPv6 will drive increased DNS queries

"As IPv6 preparedness and deployment continues, we anticipate considerable growth in IPv6 queries, both in absolute terms, and also as a ratio of aggregate queries," Kane said.

Kane added that while there are protocol and implementation complexities introduced that result in additional DNS system load during IPv4/IPv6 coexistence, VeriSign is confident that they're ahead of the curve in IPv6 transaction servicing capabilities.

"Over the past year alone, queries over IPv6 have nearly doubled as a ratio of aggregate queries, from about half a percent to nearly one percent of all transactions we service," Kane said.

The key driver for increased load on VeriSign's DNS infrastructure will come from the continued rollout of DNSSEC. With DNSSEC, lookups are verified with a digitally signed key.

"Anytime you add integrity and authentication capabilities to an information system some amount of overhead is incurred," Kane said. "In the case of DNSSEC, the tradeoff to allow Internet users to transact with more confidence and enable new applications is well justified."

Kane added that from a protocol mechanics perspective, DNSSEC does require more transactions and introduces new DNS record types, inherently placing more load on the system. He noted that VeriSign is ready for the additional demands of DNSSEC.

"In the past year alone, we've worked with the Internet community to enable DNSSEC at the root and the .net zone with no noticeable impact to Internet users, with .com being DNSSEC-enabled just on the horizon, and all while continuing to provide 100 percent uptime and availability for more than 12 years," Kane said.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.