Shorter .uk Web addresses approved but critics blast cost

Nominet is introducing shorter .uk domain names -- but critics complain about the cost and lack of benefits.

.co.uk is to go .uk. The body in charge of British Web addresses is introducing a new, shorter .uk domain name to go alongside existing URLs -- but critics say the new domain won't benefit anybody except the people behind the scheme.

Nominet, the UK body that looks after British domains, has given the green light for websites to adopt a shorter .uk name from next summer: cnet.uk, for example, instead of cnet.co.uk.

The new shorter address will cost £3.50 a year or £2.50 if you opt to register for longer, the same as current domains. More than 10 million existing UK website owners will be offered the shorter equivalent of their current address, with the new shorter version reserved for them for five years.

All Nominet’s existing domains will stick around after the introduction of the shorter URLs: .co.uk, .org.uk, .net.uk, .me.uk, .plc.uk, .ltd.uk and .sch.uk.

If there's a conflict between separate bodies holding the same website name, except one has .co.uk on the end and one has .org.uk, Nominet will offer first dibs on the new domain name to the .co.uk holder. That means businesses take precedence over schools, charities and other not-for-profit organisations that use the .org suffix. Nominet reckons they'll want to keep the .org anyway to signal their not-for-profit status.

Extra expense 

Existing companies and institutions face the cost of registering the new URL on top of their current domains to prevent cybersquatters nicking their name. In fact, critics argue the new scheme is a way for Nominet to line its pockets.

Graham Charlton of Econsultancy argues that the new domain won't have any positive effect on businesses while devaluing existing domains, failing to address security concerns, and creating a new expense for businesses and website owners.

New domains 

Lots of new Web addresses are expected in coming years as Nominet's international counterpart ICANN doles out new top-level domains, allowing website owners to stick any word they like after the dot . Among the new domains is .london, which will be available to business and organisations in the capital next year.

Does the UK need .uk? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page.

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About the author

Rich Trenholm is a senior editor at CNET where he covers everything from phones to bionic implants. Based in London since 2007, he has travelled the world seeking out the latest and best consumer technology for your enjoyment.

 

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