China Falling in Domain Name Standings

Demand for Internet addresses continues to grow in 2010, though it’s not uniform across all Top Level Domains (TLD).

According to a new report from VeriSign, the first quarter closed with a total of more than 193 million registered domain names. The Q1 tally represents an increase of 6 percent, or 11 million domain names, over the first quarter of 2009.

A year ago, the .cn county code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) for China was gaining fast and looked like it might overtake .com. In 2010, that’s not quite the case, as overall demand for ccTLD registrations slowed, and VeriSign is reporting that .cn was actually on the decline.

According to VeriSign’s report, the first quarter saw .cn slip from second place behind only .com to fourth place. In descending order, VeriSign’s top 10 list of TLDs in the first quarter was: .com, .de, .net, .cn, uk, .org, .info, .nl, .eu and .ru.

The firm explained the decline in the .cn domain as a byproduct of new policies to help ensure that domains are legitimate.

“Many of these are low-priced promotional names that have now come up for renewal at a higher price,” Pat Kane, vice president of naming services at VeriSign, told “The .cn registration decline was also based on the CNNIC (China Internet Network Information Center) registry’s implementation of the real names directive from the Chinese government primarily around verifiable ‘whois’ data.”

While .cn registrations declined, VeriSign reported that .com and .net registration hit 99.3 million names in the first quarter, an increase of 7 percent on a year-over-year basis. The first quarter of 2010 also marked a significant milestone for .com as the domain celebrated its 25th anniversary.

“.com has been a platform for Internet innovation over the past 25 years, and we expect .com will continue to play a central role for the innovators, entrepreneurs and companies who will shape the Internet over the next 25 years,” Kane said.

The first quarter of 2010 also marked a new traffic milestone for VeriSign in terms of DNS query volumes. VeriSign manages the root name servers for the Internet and has been actively expanding their capacity.

In November 2009, VeriSign CTO Ken Silva said that his company had expanded its capacity tenfold. VeriSign is now engaged in a 10-year, $300 million effort to expand its capacity even further with Project Apollo.

During the first quarter of 2010, DNS query load hit a peak of 63.2 billion queries per day, a 43 percent increase over the first quarter of 2009.

“That is the highest peak we’ve seen, and we expect that to continue to rise in the future,” Kane said.

He added that DNS query load growth is being driven by the increasing number of users on the Internet, as well as new Internet applications and technologies that tap the DNS infrastructure.

“Over the next three years alone, it’s projected that the Internet will see the number of users increase by 500 million to 2.2 billion worldwide, and devices accessing the Internet increase from 1.6 billion devices to 2.7 billion devices,” Kane said.

One of the other items that will impact DNS volume in the future could be the shift to the IPv6 addressing structure. With IPv6, more address space will be available over the current IPv4 address space, which is nearing exhaustion.

“While the deployment of IPv6 has not resulted in a significant increase in DNS queries, we expect that IPv6 will be one of the many factors that drive innovation throughout the Internet and thus will drive DNS query growth in the future,” Kane said.

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

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