196 Million Domain Names and Counting

The demand for Internet Top Level Domain (TLD) names continues to grow. VeriSign’s (NASDAQ:VRSN) Domain Name Industry Brief report for the second quarter of 2010 released this week, pegs the total number of domain registrations across all TLDs to be 196.3 million. Growth isn’t uniform around the world though, with the Chinese .cn country code TLD (ccTLD) continuing its decline in overall global standings.

The second quarter tally of 196 million domain names is a 7 percent year-over-year increase from the first quarter of 2010. Digging into the numbers, ccTLDs now total 76.3 million domains names, a 2.5 percent increase on a yearly basis. Registration for .com and .net domains grew at a faster rate with a 13 percent year-over-year increase.

“Domain name registrations continue to trend positively in line with our expectations,” Pat Kane, vice-president of Naming Services at VeriSign, told InternetNews.com. “We were pleased that the .com and .net TLDs saw strong aggregate growth in the second quarter, surpassing a combined total of 100 million names.”

The top TLDs in the world during the second quarter based on the number of registered domains were , .com, .de (Germany), .net, .uk, .org, .cn, .info, .nl (Netherlands), .eu (European Union), and .ru (Russian Federation). The second quarter global standings represent a decline for the .cn (China) ccTLD, which fell from its first quarter positing of fourth to sixth place in the second quarter.

“As we saw in Q1, many of these .cn domain names are low-priced promotional names that have now come up for renewal at a higher price, and as such, aren’t being renewed,” Kane said. “.cn also continues to feel the impact of the CNNIC registry’s implementation of the real names directive from the Chinese government primarily around verifiable whois data. This went into effect in mid-December 2009 and has affected .cn registrations since that time.”

The second quarter of 2010 also saw the launch of the new .co TLD which Kane noted added to the total based of domain name registrations during the quarter.

“Overall, there were a number launches, promotional programs and events that contributed to the global base of Internet domain names growing to 196.3 million across all TLDs in Q2,” Kane said.

An update on DNS security

VeriSign’s report also provides detail on the state of DNS , which VeriSign helps to administer in the root zone of the Internet. During the second quarter of 2010, VeriSign reported that the daily average DNS query volume was 62.5 billion lookups, which is a 28 percent increase from the second quarter of 2009.

One of the key things that is changing with DNS is the implementation of DNSSEC (DNS Security Extensions) which provides encrypted information integrity for domain authenticity. The root zone of the Internet was signed for DNSSEC in July.

“There has been no perceivable impact to DNS query volume to the root servers since signing the root,” Kane said. ” Further, there have been no issues reported from the broader Internet community that signing the root caused an outage or other problems. We can’t speculate on the future, but we are continuing to pursue our measured, controlled implementation of DNSSEC in attempt to mitigate any issues.”

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

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