Total global domain name registrations passed the quarter billion mark in the final quarter of 2012, reaching 252 million, an increase of 26.6 million or 11.8 percent for the year, according to the latest Verisign Domain Name Industry Brief. For the fourth quarter, registrations grew by 6.1 million or 2.5 percent.The growth of country code Top Level Domains continued their more impressive growth rate. Combined, there are now 110.2 million registrations across the 280 ccTLDs (including internationalised domain names) that existed at the end of the year, an increase of five percent for the quarter and 21.6 percent for the year.Among the 20 largest ccTLDs, four exceeded four percent overall quarter-over-quarter growth: China, Tokelau, India and the Russian Federation. This marks three straight quarters where China (31.5 percent) and Tokelau (16.1 percent) have exceeded four percent growthFor the two gTLDs managed by Verisign, .com and .net, they grew to a combined total of approximately 121.1 million – 106.2 million names for .com and 14.9 million for .net. Combined this was a 6.4 percent increase for the year. The remaining 21 million registrations covered all other gTLDs such as .org, biz, pro and so on.The order of the top TLDs in terms of zone size changed slightly when compared to the third quarter, as .cn (China) moved up a ranking from the eighth largest TLD to the seventh largest TLD, resulting in .info moving down one ranking. All other TLDs in the top 10 maintained their rankings.The largest TLDs in order by zone size were .com, .de (Germany), .net, .tk (Tokelau), .uk (United Kingdom), .org, .cn (China), .info, .nl (Netherlands) and .ru (Russian Federation).One driver of name growth in the domain industry during 2012 was .tk, which, according to the registry for .tk has now surpassed 16 million registrations, which would make it the largest ccTLD and second largest TLD overall.The Verisign report notes that while the .tk registry offers both free and paid domain names, according to the .tk registry, 97 percent of its active domain name registrations are free domain name registrations. As a result, .tk’s growth statistics may not be directly comparable to traditional TLDgrowth rates and may distort the overall trend lines reported in Verisign’s findings. With .tk, the year-over-year domain name registration growth rate is 11.8 percent, as stated above. Excluding .tk, the year-over-year domain name registration growth rate is 8.9 percent.For the more technically minded, Verisign’s report notes the .com and .net renewal rate for the fourth quarter 72.9 percent, up slightly from 72.5 percent in the third quarter of 2012. Renewal rates vary quarter over quarter based on the composition of the expiring name base and the contribution of specific registrars.During the quarter, Verisign’s average daily Domain Name System (DNS) query load was 77 billion, across all TLDs operated by Verisign, with a peak of 123 billion. Compared to the previous quarter, the daily average increased 16 percent and the peak increased 20.4 percent. Year over year, the daily average increased 21.5 percent and the peak increased 5.3 percent.The report also has a focus on “big data” and its challenges and opportunities for organisations. The report notes recent research shows the global Big Data market was worth $6.3 billion in 2012 and is expected to reach $48.3 billion by 2018, at a compound annual growth rate of 40.5 percent from 2012 to 2018.The relevance to domain names of “big data” is that with more than 252 million registered domain names generating billions of Web pages, the DNS itself presents its own unique Big Data challenge, but also offers distinctive opportunities.The benefit of knowing about “big data” is that by analysing DNS transactions, companies can glean greater insight into precisely how domain names are being used, including their functionality, connectivity and reach, or what information users leverage the most. Verisign’s report says that such intelligence can help companies make more informed decisions regarding their future business strategy or offer better services that meet their customers’ needs. And given that nearly every internet transaction goes through DNS servers, that data source can become a true business differentiator, when analysed correctly. In addition, DNS data can become an important tool in securing the network.The full Verisign Domain Name Industry Brief can be downloaded from www.verisigninc.com/en_US/why-verisign/research-trends/domain-name-industry-brief/index.xhtml.