Internet domain registration company Nominet has confirmed that UK-based businesses will be able to register a .uk domain for their website from summer next year.
The decision follows a year-long consultation between Nominet and business owners on the possibility of introducing the shorter .uk domain, which will exist alongside the current .co.uk suffix.
Businesses with a website ending in .co.uk will have five years to decide if they want to switch to a .uk domain before they lose priority and it can be registered by somebody else. Nominet says it will take care of spats over intellectual property using its dispute resolution service.
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Nominet is keen to point out that registration for a single .uk domain will cost the same as .co.uk domains (£3.50 per year, or £2.50 per year for multi-year subscriptions). It says that it launched the new domain to bring the UK in line with other country-code registries, such as Germany's .de or France's .fr.
Eleanor Bradley, Chief Operating Officer at Nominet, told TRPro that Nominet deliberately gave the .uk domain the green light ahead of ICANN's release of hundreds of top level domains.
She said: "We are very aware of the massive shake up happening next year. There'll be lots of choice available with new top level domains which is really important. However, we think that .uk is the right place online for UK businesses and we want to make sure that it remains attractive in the face of new choice."
Bradley said that businesses will have to provide "good quality contact and registrar information", including a real address and email address to comply with law enforcement requirements.
The original consultation proposed that .uk domains would provide malware protection and mandatory DNS SEC (security extensions), neither of which will be offered now, according to Bradley.
She said: "We heard in the first consultation that people were in favour of higher security but didn't want that to be mandated with .UK. One of the key bits of feedback in the second consultation was that people didn't want any sense that any domains were second class in terms of security, so it's important that anything we do across .UK we also do across .co.uk."
Bradley added that Nominet is working with channel partners to launch a number of security initiatives along with the new domain next year.
She said: "We want to make sure that our systems are as secure as possible and also look at how we can support small and midsized enterprises against cyber crime and building up their levels of security."