Home / Blogs

Meeting Growing Demands of Domain Name Space

This post will explain why ICANN and the domain industry should foster and encourage the use of third-level domain name spaces to benefit the domain name industry and as a way to meet the growing demand for easy-to-remember URLs.

Best Use of the Third-Level Domain Name Space

The Internet was originally envisioned to be hierarchical in nature. The Domain Name System came into being out of a need for easy-to-remember network addresses. Over the years and as the Internet has become more mainstream it became evident that,

1.) It was becoming more difficult to acquire those easy-to-remember network addresses (Domain Names) and

2.) Users wanted more choices in domain names.

Thus began an Industry debate about how to grow the domain space. The end result was the creation of several new gTLDs (Generic Top Level Domains) like .INFO and .BIZ, and sTLDs (Sponsored Top Level Domains) like .PRO and .COOP.

Although benefits have come out of the creation of the new TLDs, a simple, obvious, important, existing solution is largely being overlooked by the domain name industry; existing third level domain spaces.

Offering Third-Level Domains is good for the Industry and Less Confusing for the Public

There are a few private registries that offer third-level domain names to the general public today:

CentralNic, Ltd. (The largest and the company that I work for) - Offers third-level domains from a network of 20 second-level domain names, most of which are country-specific, two-letter, .COM domains. Examples are “US.COM”, “UK.COM”, “EU.COM”, “RU.COM”, AND “CN.COM”.

Net Registry Pty. Ltd. - Offers third-level domains from “JP.COM”, and “AU.COM”

Since CentralNic offers domains through a network of registrars and resellers like eNom and Dotster, we are in the unique position of seeing first hand that end users like to buy third level domain names, but not just any third level domains:

1.) They like domains that they inherently understand and relate to. No explanation is necessary to understand the meaning of “US”, “UK”, or “EU” to an end user. It is inherently understandable to an end user due to its ubiquity.

2.) They like domain names that end with .COM. No explanation is necessary to understand what .COM means. It is inherently understandable to an end user due to its ubiquity.

The point is this… The practice of offering easy-to-understand, third-level domains to end users is good for the domain name industry, good for registrants, and good for end users (web site visitors). The practice should be encouraged by ICANN and the domain name industry in general.

Some have made this argument: “What would happen to all the registrants if the company offering third-level domains decided to sell their domain names?

This can be answered with another very simple question: “What would happen to all the e-mail users if AOL, Earthlink, or NetZero decided to sell their domain names?

Companies, regardless of their size, have a right to sell services under their domain names, whether those services are e-mail addresses or sub-domains. Thousands of ISPs sell e-mail addresses that depend on the domain name of the ISP as part of their offer. There is nothing new about this.

So What Is The Highest And Best Use Of A Domain Name Like “US.COM” Or “UK.COM”?

Would it serve more people and benefit the domain name industry if these domains were used as an easy-to-remember moniker for a single large US based insurance company?

Or does it benefit the domain name industry and the buying public if they are offered as Gtlds (Generic third-level domains - Note the lower case “t”).

The answer is that these types of domain names are an invaluable resource to the domain name industry and the industry should encourage the use of them as much as possible.

What is the Best Way to Meet the Growing Demands on the Name Space?

Creating special new Sponsored TLDs may not the best course for our industry. The use and promotion of a domain as an accrediting device or to convey some status to the general public is a bad idea and creates somewhat of a domain name class jealousy where only the most connected, technically savvy, domain name registrants will end up with the most desirable new domains. The industry ends up in the same cycle of looking for ways to grow the domain space because average registrants can’t find easy-to-remember domains.

For example in creating .jobs and .travel, and allowing only “accredited HR professionals” or “accredited travel agents”, to register them, are we trying to say that holders of these new sTLDs are more reputable than holders of the .COM versions of the same?

This is a system that is inherently false to end users since we know that there is no real way to enforce the “quality” of a registrant. It is also unfair to holders of .COM, .NET, .ORG, and .etc. domain names.

To attempt to convey that a .job or .travel domain name holder is any more qualified or professional than the holder of another TLD domain name like .COM, .NET, or .INFO, .ORG, or .BIZ. is bad for the industry.

Ultimately, any statement of qualification for domain name holders by the industry or some trade group will be proven to be false and misleading to end users (web site visitors) since it is ultimately unenforceable. We should have already learned that from existing Sponsored TLDs that financial and market forces will ultimately create a need for loosening of the “qualifications”.

The Principle of Highest and Best Use

Analogies are often made of the Domain Name Space as being virtual real estate so I’d like to quote the National Association of Realtor’s definition of “Highest and Best Use”:

“A determination of the highest and best use of one or more sites (either vacant or as though vacant) or properties as improved by examining the profitability of all possible use scenarios (including renovation, rehabilitation, demolition, and replacement). “

For the purpose of this argument we must face the reality that domain names have become the virtual equivalent to real estate. They have many similar properties that include traffic, desirability, and utility.

The highest and best use for many second-level domain names is to offer the third-level domain space to registrants. It benefits the widest possible audience, increases the usable domain space in a practical way, and mostly, benefits the domain name industry. ICANN and the domain registrar community should strongly support and encourage this use of the third-level domain name space.

By Joe S Alagna, Advisor

Filed Under


BobS  –  Apr 3, 2005 9:38 PM

note to the author: .Pro is not an sTLD

Gazza11  –  Apr 6, 2005 2:39 PM

Surely it would be better to have ‘us.com’, etc the other way around: ‘com.us’ as this would be like the way many country-suffixed domains are, eg: ‘co.uk’.  Wouldn’t ‘[whatever].com.us’ be better that ‘[whatever].us.com’?

Joe S Alagna  –  Apr 6, 2005 8:18 PM

Hi Gazza11,

Your suggestion might be a preferred choice for many, however it is an option that only the .us registry can offer.  Thanks for the input.

Domains  –  Jul 12, 2005 7:31 PM

Why are centralnic prices at $110 for 2 years so high. You can register a real .com for 2 years for $16!!!

Ricardo Vaz Monteiro  –  Mar 14, 2007 9:21 PM

Dear Joe:

I really dont think that sell Third-Level Domain Name is good for the industry. For 2 reasons:

a) In Brazil, for instance, a BR.COM domain name will be interpreted as a TYPO ERROR of a COM.BR domain name. This is a huge problem and might rise all type of problems with registrants… and the marketplace itself.

b) When you buy a Third-Level Domain name you dont pay nothing to ICANN.

Please, could you convince me of the opposite?

Best Regards,

Ricardo Vaz Monteiro
Registro de dominio

Joe S Alagna  –  Mar 14, 2007 11:11 PM

Wow, this thread got resurrected today.  I didn’t see the older comments.

To Bob - I stand corrected. Thanks. I had the idea that .pro was a sponsored Tld back then.

Hi Ricardo, We are all entitled to our opinions. I respect your opinion and I don’t know if I can convince you otherwise.  I believe however, that it is not so difficult for a normal functioning adult to differentiate between .BR.COM and .COM.BR.  This kind of reading is taught to us in elementary school.

My points were that we should advocate choices that fall within the existing structure and intent of the DNS system and that what we do at CentralNic qualifies as part of that original intent.  This is obvious in many of the first RFPs about the DNS.

Offering sub-domains is not much different than offering e-mail addresses and ICANN gets no financial benefit from that practice.  In fact it could be argued that certain sub-domains are more valuable to end users than e-mail addresses alone since those users can then set up additional e-mail addresses under those sub-domains.

My primary point here was that offering sub-domains as a service to the public is a choice that benefits many more people than if we just kept those important domains to ourselves and built, say hosting, or insurance companies, or things like that on them.  I also meant that the practice of offering sub-domains (especially on highly generic short domains like BR.COM or US.COM) is a good practice and that it should be encouraged rather than creating new top level domains for every idea under the sun. The fact that ICANN is now holding back two letter domains proves their value and I think, proves this point.  I think that some day they will be used in that way and sponsored somehow by ICANN or possibly auctioned off to the highest private bidders.

Whether I worked for CentralNic or not I would not be in favor of thousands of new Tlds.  I personally think that thousands of Tlds would be a disservice to the Internet community and create the worst kind of confusion.  It would be akin to eliminating Tlds all together since there would be so many end users who would never really catch on to all the Tlds.

That’s all I was trying to say Ricardo.  Thanks for your comment.  Debates such as this are valuable in helping us make the most sense out of this all and in coming up with the best kinds of solutions.

Ricardo Vaz Monteiro  –  Mar 15, 2007 12:37 AM

Dear Joe:

If I run an ad in a Brazilian Newspaper for http://www.Nomer.br.com, anyone will think that is a TYPO because we can “differentiate between .BR.COM and .COM.BR.” AND the common TLD is .COM.BR ! So the conclusion will be: it should be a typo…

Nobody taught the marketplace, even in a “elementary school”, that .BR.COM is not a typo of .COM.BR.

As a matter of fact, It seems to me that only people outside Brazil will reserve a .BR.COM name - and probably they think that they are protecting their brand in Brazil !
Which in my humble opinion its not the case.

For me, The fact that ICANN is now holding back two letter domains its because they would like to avoid the confusion of subdomains and ccTLD´s.

I´m sorry to turn on this issue but for me they are very clear, am I wrong ?


Ricardo Vaz Monteiro
Registro de dominio

Joe S Alagna  –  Mar 15, 2007 1:50 AM

Hi Ricardo,

Your first point is well taken and a valid marketing concern for a registrant.  This is probably one of the drawbacks about our product. 

But yet, we see registrants all over the world that prefer our domains to some of the other choices that are left so there is demand, especially when the exact name that they want is not available.  We give them an alternate choice that works in the existing root infrastructure. 

I make no claims that they are perfect nor the best choice for everyone in all the countries we work, but they certainly are a better choice than alternate roots and (IMHO) new Tlds.

LOL, on the elementary school thing, we disagree though.  I think that any third grade pupil can easily tell the difference between those two domains. Some might think its a typo, but they’ll know they are different quite easily. I doubt we’ll ever do away with all misunderstandings.

Of course I didn’t know what a domain was until I was in my mid 30s.


Comment Title:

  Notify me of follow-up comments

We encourage you to post comments and engage in discussions that advance this post through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can report it using the link at the end of each comment. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of CircleID. For more information on our comment policy, see Codes of Conduct.

CircleID Newsletter The Weekly Wrap

More and more professionals are choosing to publish critical posts on CircleID from all corners of the Internet industry. If you find it hard to keep up daily, consider subscribing to our weekly digest. We will provide you a convenient summary report once a week sent directly to your inbox. It's a quick and easy read.

I make a point of reading CircleID. There is no getting around the utility of knowing what thoughtful people are thinking and saying about our industry.

Co-designer of the TCP/IP Protocols & the Architecture of the Internet




Sponsored byVerisign

IPv4 Markets

Sponsored byIPv4.Global

Brand Protection

Sponsored byCSC

Domain Names

Sponsored byVerisign

Threat Intelligence

Sponsored byWhoisXML API

New TLDs

Sponsored byRadix


Sponsored byDNIB.com