Nominet takes over management of domain registry

The public benefit company that has managed the .uk top level domain for almost 30 years has now taken on oversight of government’s roster of more than 8,000 registered domains

Nominet, which has managed the register of all .uk online domains for almost 30 years has this week also taken on responsibility for managing, on behalf of government, the total of almost 4,000 domain names.

The firm – which aims to operate as a “public benefit company” – first won the contract to take over the registry in November. The formal handover from previous supplier Jisc, a non-profit technology specialist focused on the research and education sector, took place on Wednesday.

From that day onwards, Nominet will work on behalf of government’s Central Digital and Data Office to oversee registration of new domains, and manage the 3,854 URLs currently registered. This includes sites run by a wide range of central and local government bodies around the country.

According to an FAQ document published by Nominet, applications to register new domains are temporarily suspended, but will be reopened in due course.

Management of the roster of registrants will include responsibility for invoicing domain-holders: a charge of £12 to create or renew a registration.

Although Nominet manages the national top-level .uk domain of all sites registered in this country, the company said that the government-specific “registry will continue to operate and function independently of the parent .UK top-level domain”.

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The text of the contract between CDDO and Nominet indicates that the Cabinet Office agency hopes that the new provider will help “provide increased resilience and more comprehensive registrar supply chain management”.

“The supplier shall evolve the resilient registry services with any new features and standards that it includes in its off-the-shelf commercial offerings, so that the critical domain-holder benefits from the evolution of the supplier’s standard commercial offerings,” the contract adds. “If an RFC (Request for Comment technical specification) or other standard identified in this document is obsolete or not the correct one as recognised by the industry, the supplier shall propose an alternative RFC or other standard.”

The deal also covers the provision “performance and availability monitoring” of domains – on a global basis.

“The supplier shall monitor registry performance and availability in each of the ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) geographic regions, namely: Africa; Asia/Australia/Pacific; Europe; Latin America/Caribbean; and North America,” the contract says.

The deal runs for an initial term of five years, concluding on 13 November 2028. The agreement, which can be extended for two further one-year terms, is valued at about £1.4m.

In a press release issued when the contract win was first announced, Nominet’s managing director of registry and social impact Eleanor Bradley said: “We’re incredibly proud of this new partnership – supporting these critical domains aligns closely with our mission to be a world-class registry and public benefit company.” 

Nominet was created in 1996 and has been responsible for managing the .uk top-level domain ever since. During this time, the number of registered domains under its watch has risen from fewer than 30,000 to its current total of about 11 million: a near-four-hundredfold increase.

Sam Trendall

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