ccTLDs get covid-19 booster

International
  • Some ccTLD registries seem to have received a boost from the covid-19 pandemic
  • Australia’s ‘.au’ registry has recorded a surge in new domain registrations during its covid-19 lockdown
  • The ‘.eu’ TLD has regained some of the registration numbers it had lost due to Brexit in recent years

 

In contrast to some recent reports of a fall in domain name registration numbers in certain country-code top-level domains (ccTLDs), a few registries seem to have bucked the trend and received an unlikely boost from the recent covid-19 lockdowns.

Australia’s ‘.au’ ccTLD is one of the registries to record a surge in new domain registrations during its covid-19 lockdown, with 48,754 new ‘.au’ domains being registered in April, which is a more than 23% increase on its April 2019 figures. The registry stated that it was “the biggest month for new domain name creations we’ve seen in a while”, although the overall number of registrations was down slightly to 3,168,883.

In Europe, the European Union’s ‘.eu’ TLD registry announced in its Q1 2020 Progress Report that promotional activities for the ‘.eu’ TLD in Portugal had resulted in 80,000 ‘.eu’ registrations from Portugal at the end of the quarter, which is a 64% spike pushing the figures up by about 30,000 from the end of 2019. The TLD thus regained some of the registration numbers it has lost in recent years due to Brexit, which will see people resident in Britain with no ties to the European Union lose their right to hold ‘.eu’ domain names at the end of this year. This recent increase in growth more than covers the 8,000 domain names lost due to the UK exodus and has seen the ‘.eu’ TLD return to a growth rate of around 15%.

In more good news from Portugal, the ‘.pt’ TLD seems to have got enough of a fillip from the pandemic lockdown to ride out the storm, with DNS.PT, the Portuguese registry, stating that it performed better than expected over the period, adding 32,671 new domain names from 1 January to 27 April 2020. DNS.PT reported that 359 of these domain names, or about 1% of them, appeared to be directly related to the pandemic and that about half a dozen have since been deleted for violating its terms of service. However, in spite of the pandemic boost, there was a substantial drop in registration numbers when set against the first quarter of 2019, which saw 36,930 new registrations.

Another registry to note a change in the pattern of registrant behaviour as a result of the pandemic is the Netherland’s SIDN.  In a recent blog post, it pointed out that, although overall the numbers remained stable due to increased cancellations, registrations were up by 10,000 during the lockdown period over the same period last year. Based on the results of a questionnaire-based survey of registrants commissioned by SIDN, a reasonable proportion of these additional registrations came from start-ups that were planning to trade online and an increased demand for business mailboxes, websites and webshops. In this regard, the registry stated that:

[b]efore March of this year, 30% of all domain names were being used for mail or websites, but service providers are reporting active use levels of 40 to 50% for new registrations. That seems to be mainly due to the creation of new webshops.

The registry also pointed out that, during this period, the ‘.nl’ TLD had strengthened its popularity with “local and regional providers” that were planning to target local markets with the “proportion preferring ‘.nl’ to the more international ‘.com’ rising from 69% to 76%”. Thus, it would seem that lockdowns and border closures have had an influence in the virtual world as well.

It will be interesting to see what happens now that lockdowns are easing in Europe and, to some extent, worldwide; but with many businesses struggling to survive after weeks of forced inactivity, it is hard to imagine that the effect on registration numbers could be anything but negative.

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