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Brits registering .uk domains mostly get first choice

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Most Brits think it's easy to find a .uk address for their websites, but almost half admit to having settled on a domain that was not their first choice, according to a new survey.

The report, commissioned by .uk manager Nominet, may add fuel to the debate over whether the plan from global internet policy overseer ICANN to dramatically increase the number of top-level domains on the internet meets a market need.

The survey of 1,086 randomly selected .uk domain name registrants conducted by ComRes in the first week of September found that a whopping 86 per cent think that registering a .uk name that they want was very easy or fairly easy.

However, 40 per cent of the people who thought the process was easy also admitted that they had to register an alternative address because their first choice was already registered to somebody else.

ComRes found that 44 per cent of respondents agreed with the statement: "The website address I want is unavailable, so I have to create and register an alternative .uk address."

A further 17 per cent said they registered a domain in .com, or in another extension, when they were unable to buy their first-choice .uk address.

Just four per cent said they ended up buying their address from a domainer – somebody who had registered it first in order to sell it on at a higher price.

The survey was carried out at Nominet's behest to help inform a policy working group tasked with potentially reforming how expiring .uk domain registrations are handled.

But the data also feeds into the ongoing debate about whether there is a sufficient scarcity of desirable domain names to warrant ICANN's huge expansion of the top-level domains market, which is due to kick off in January.

Supporters of ICANN's new gTLD program say that more extensions will increase choice and alleviate the scarcity that has forced entrepreneurs to create increasingly bizarre company names to match impossible-to-spell .com domain names.

But critics, such as executives from the US Association of National Advertisers and former ICANN chairman Esther Dyson have disputed this claim, saying that more extensions will merely force companies to pay more to protect their brands online.

An ICANN-commissioned study [PDF] last December concluded that scarcity was not a pervasive problem. ®

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