In 2013, Nominet released a consultation with regards to registration of Second Level Domain Names (SLDs). It was done "as part of a broader programme of work aimed at driving innovation, enhancing security and improving standards in the .uk namespace"
The plan was not without controversy:
Whilst the full process is yet to be completed, revealing the full effect of the new policy, there are some figures we can look at to see how things are going. Nominet provide registration statistics since the inception of the policy change, allowing us to crunch some numbers. Unfortunately, finding earlier registration statistics escapes my google-fu abilities, except for their 2013 report which mentions "the 3.3% growth in the register".
Punching the above statistics into a charting tool, we get the following result:
So - we can see the following trends:
- total co.uk's declining since the introduction of direct .uk's (the blue line).
- direct .uk's taking up some of the slack, but
- the overall registrations remaining more or less static until
- a large up-tick in direct registrations in October 2017.
- after the large bump in October, direct registration appearing to remain constant, co.uk's continuing their decline and overall registrations also appearing to decline.
It's too early to determine if the overall decline indicated after October is due to seasonal variations or a permanent trend.
The large registration numbers in October is interesting and warrants more investigation. This take-up is related to a promotion run by Nominet, whereby the matching registration in .UK was offered to CO.UK registrants free, for a period of two years. Even this offer, by some accounts was slow to move figures, and registrars then went and registered domains on behalf of registrants. This move has met with controversy, and it will be interesting to see the effect in two years time, when these names come up for renewal.
In the meantime, it seems reasonable to adjust the above graphic to take cognisance of domains that are actually paid for. Below is my attempt to do so, although I suggest that the some effects of the promotion snuck in. Interesting to note, is that .UK registrations went down from 2,119,904 in October 2017 to 2,116,067 in January 2018, continuing what now appears to be a decline in the UK namespace. It will be interesting to watch as further figures get released.
But considering they've gone from a 3.3% pa growth rate at the start of their .UK program to a 2.1% growth rate over three years and half years since, signs are not encouraging.