Had the new gTLD programme led the U.S. to Internet Independence yet?

By Stuart Fuller


Sitting down in 21st place in the list of the most registered Top Level Domains in the world with 1.8million registrations is dotUS.  It ranks firmly below the suffix of countries with significantly smaller populations such as The Netherlands, United Kingdom, Germany and Australia.  But is that much of a surprise? Ask most business leaders what TLD best represents their online presence and cent to a dollar they will say dotCom.  With over 110 million registrations it is hard to argue that dotCom isn't the one global identity of the Internet and the Top Level Domain of choice for any business, assuming their name is available.  Whilst the new gTLD programme could change this view over time, there was still over 8 million new dotCom and dotNet domains added in Q4 2014, significantly more than the new gTLDs saw.

Back in 1985 dotUS was introduced as the first country code Top Level Domain to give businesses and consumers the opportunity to reflect their geographical presence.  It also opened up one of the few domain spaces where the two characters also meant something on their own (such as dotBe, dotIS and dotMe), leading to some great domain names such as www.delicio.us and www.about.us.  The US Government has also adopted the TLD for information websites such as www.parks.us and www.vote.us.  However, there is a complete lack of dotUS websites in the Alexa Top 500 websites.

There are nexus requirements for the registration of a dotUS which may deter some registrants who are looking at creating their own dot move web address, including:

• Any United States citizen or resident

• Any United States entity, such as organizations or corporations

• Any foreign entity or organization with a genuine presence in the United States

The launch of the new gTLD program may see further inhabitation of growth for the ccTLD.  We've already seen very strong registration numbers for dotNYC (80,000 registrations) plus traction for dotVegas (15,000).  DotMiami and dotBoston will complete the US GeoTLDs in this round although there is also the strange case of dotLA that has been marketed in the past few years as representing Los Angeles rather than Laos as it was originally intended.  Take up has been slow since it was delegated in 2000, suffering the same issue as the gTLD program with few high profile organizations willing to use a dotLA.

The hope is that dotNYC's popularity will drive user adoption, which in turn will make it more likely that other US-specific applications will be made as and when there is a second round.  We can be quite sure that the new gTLDs will lead to a fragmentation of the existing domain space.  Once organizations can see the benefits of adopting a more relevant domain for their business, such as dotAttorney, dotAccountant or dotDentist rather than compromising on a customised version of their brand under a dotCom the new gTLD revolution will be truly underway.