220 Million Domains and Counting

The demand for Internet domains did not slow down at the end of 2011. According to Verisign’s (NASDAQ:VRSN) third quarter 2011 Domain Name Industry Brief, there are now some 220 million registered domain names.

The new domain count milestone comes as the Internet prepares for a potential flood of new generic top-level-domains (TLDs).

While new TLDs will soon be on the scene, for the third quarter of 2011, .com and .net grew by a total of 7.9 million new registrations in the quarter. The third quarter tally is a 5.9 percent gain over the third quarter of 2010. There are now 112 million .com and .net registered domain names.

Country Code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs) also experienced growth during the quarter. According to Verisign, there are now 86.9 million ccTLDs, which is a 9.8 percent year-over-year increase. Currently the largest domains in terms of registered names are: .com, .de (Germany), .net, .uk (United Kingdom), .org, .info, .tk (Tokelau), .nl (Netherlands),.ru (Russia) and .eu (European Union).

The existing group of TLDs will soon experience new members with the pending addition of the new generic TLD (gTLD) program. ICANN voted to approve the gTLD program during its Singapore meeting in June of 2011. The gTLD program will enable organizations to apply for nearly any name to become a gTLD.

ICANN has set January 12th as the date when they will begin accepting applications for the gTLDs. The initial application window closes in April.

“Verisign believes that each new gTLD category poses unique opportunities and challenges,” Verisign stated in the DNIB report. “Through its new gTLD services offerings, Verisign expects to work with representatives of new gTLD categories, providing technical support, backend services and consulting in the exciting new gTLD marketplace.”

While Verisign is optimistic about the opportunities that the new gTLDs represent, others are not nearly as enthusiastic. Among those that have concerns about the TLD expansion is the U.S. Department of Commerce. Lawrence Strickling, the Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information, wrote in a letter to ICANN that he has heard many concerns from industry about the new program.

“It has become clear that many organizations, particularly trademark owners, believe they need to file defensive applications at the top level,” Strickling wrote. “We think, and I am sure ICANN and its stakeholders would agree, that it would not be healthy for the expansion program if a large number of companies file defensive top-level applications when they have no interest in operating a registry.”

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist

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