.Net.uk domain granted stay of execution

Domain tied up in consultation exercise

The underused .net.uk domain has been granted a stay of execution after a meeting of Nominet's Policy Advisory Board decided that still more consultation was needed before a decision on its future was taken.

The decision comes after a sub-committee charged with looking at the issue recommended it be closed off to new entrants and slowly wound down. This was thrown out by the PAB in October and reiterated a second time in a meeting on 4 December, leading some to believe the issue is being downplayed in an effort to avoid confrontation.

The head of the sub-committee, Clive Feather, has so far not responded our requests for comment and the head of the PAB, Peter Gradwell, refused to talk about it prior to the publication of the PAB's December meeting minutes - expected in a week's time.

However, we understand that Nominet is hoping that the controversial nature of the domain's future will be tempered in what looks set to become a long, drawn-out consultation period.

Mr Gradwell pointed us to the PAB's October statement on .net.uk as indicative of its current stance and said that Nominet is going to "take time to do it properly". It reads: "The PAB considered the net.uk subcommittee's report and noted the large volume of feedback urging that the subcommittee reconsider its conclusions. The PAB felt unsure as to whether the domain's rules could be appropriately altered to resolve the stated issues.

"It also felt that the question of whether the domain name could become open, but strongly chartered, had not been fully explored. The PAB recommended that the subcommittee should garner further stakeholder option and reconvene to further investigate two specific options: opening up the domain (potentially with a strong charter); fixing the current rules."

That the subcommittee met twice since that report in order to iron the problems out and that the PAB has again asked for more consultation indicates the stalemate that has occurred.

Mr Feather believes that the .net.uk is effectively obsolete thanks to changes in the Internet structure and should be removed. He argues that opening it up fully to anyone would simply created a pointless alternative to .co.uk.

His argument appears to be supported by the number of new registrations of .net.uk domains - despite the huge attention the domain has commanded in the past two months, none were registered in October and just two in November.

However, others feel that .net.uk still has a part to play if its rules are carefully adjusted. One suggestion is that could become the domain of choice for the next generation of local wireless networks.

Either way, the death of .net.uk looks increasingly unlikely with Mr Feather's recommendations being twice rejected. Whether .net.uk does become a useful domain, only time will tell. ®

Related Link

The PAB's October minutes (see point 7).

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