.IE Registrations Surge on Back of Liberalised Eligibility With Calls To Reduce Registry Fee

Registrations for Ireland’s ccTLD, .ie, surged 39% for the year to the end of June, taking total registrations to 252,222 in a record-breaking first 6 months of 2018. As of 3 August there were 253,782 registrations. The surge came on the back of a liberalising of eligibility rules that came into effect on 21 March.

The surge saw 154 new domain name registrations every day, with increases in 31 of the 32 counties of Ireland. The majority (62.5%), of new .ie domains were registered by businesses (including corporate bodies and sole traders). However with only just over a quarter of a million registrations, Ireland's country code top level domain (ccTLD) remains as one of the lowest ccTLDs in Europe when it comes to registrations per capita.

“Virtually every county in Ireland recorded an increase in .ie domain registrations in the first half of 2018,” said IEDR CEO David Curtin. “The majority were registered by corporate bodies and sole traders. This is good news: an increase in online activity among businesses is a leading indicator of Ireland’s broader economic growth.”

“In particular, the growth of .ie in regional parts of Ireland is a fantastic example of how the internet can help businesses in less infrastructurally developed counties overcome traditional barriers to growth, such as a smaller customer base or slower road and rail links.”

Curtin attributed a significant part of .ie’s growth in the last 6 months as a result of the new liberalisation policy. The policy, implemented in March after extensive consultation with industry stakeholders and the general public, makes it easier and faster to register a .ie domain with the need to show a ‘claim to the name’ when registering a new .ie domain was removed from 21 March 2018. This change is timely as businesses are moving away from generic, anonymous email addresses, like eircom.net or gmail.com.

“Liberalisation has resulted in a streamlined registration process. While applicants are still required to prove their connection to Ireland, they can now register their preferred name on a first-come, first-served basis. For new business start-ups and small-scale enterprises, liberalisation has removed an administrative obstacle to .ie domain registration.”

But the surge in registrations has led to calls for a reduction in the registry fee charged to registrars. The company which handled the largest share of those new registrations, Carlow-based Blacknight, is calling on IEDR to reduce the cost of .ie domain names and pass on the savings made by simplifying the registration process.

“It’s no surprise that simpler registration rules have led to a growth in registration volumes. None. We knew that would happen”, says Michele Neylon, CEO of Blacknight.

“We had long argued that cumbersome registration requirements were needlessly impeding the growth of the Irish national domain. We’re delighted to be proved right, and we welcome the vote of confidence shown by the public in the .IE namespace”, said Neylon.

“But now it’s time to tackle the other obstacle to growth. If IEDR want to really drive registration volumes, then they need to reduce the wholesale price of IE domain names to bring them in line with other major European country-code domain names”.

He says that the only beneficiary of the cost-savings delivered by the rule changes in March has been IEDR itself, which has likely seen a reduction in costs associated with what was previously a labour-intensive process.

When the new registrations are broken down geographically, Leinster, including Dublin, registered 17,544 new .ie domains, or 67% of all new registrations on the island of Ireland. This was a 39% increase year-on-year. Munster followed, with 19% of registrations (up 28% YOY); Connacht recorded 9% of registrations (+39% YOY); and Ulster 5% (+34% YOY).

On a county level, Dublin registered 11,134 new .ie domains in H1 2018, accounting for 42.5% of all new registrations on the island of Ireland. Cork registered the second-highest number of new .ie domains, 2,221 (8.5% of all new registrations), followed by Galway (1,330, 5%) and Kildare (1,258, 5%).

Leitrim, registering 179 .ie domains in H1 2018, recorded the highest year-on-year registration growth in the country (+113%).

In Northern Ireland, five of the six counties recorded growth in new .ie domain registrations. Antrim registered the highest number of .ie domains (158), a +42% increase on last year.