After months of debate and lackluster support from the internet community, Nominet has approved plans to offer .UK domains alongside .CO.UK, starting in summer 2014.
Domain names that are unique, and do not have an equivalent name registered as a .co.uk or an .org.uk, will be available on a first-come, first served basis, according to Nominet.
Existing .uk customers will be offered the shorter equivalent of their current address, and have five years to decide whether they want to use it in addition to or instead of their existing domains.
In instances where one person has example.co.uk and another has example.org.uk, the shorter .uk domain will be available to the .co.uk registrant.
In March, Nominet temporarily delayed its plans to introduce .uk domains, after criticism that the release could be confusing to existing registrants, and the .uk domains were overpriced, costing £20 per year.
The wholesale price for the new domains will be lower than first proposed at £3.50 per year for single year registrations and £2.50 per year for multi-year registrations, the same price as a current .co.uk domain, Nominet said. Still, many registrants criticized the move for being a blatant money grab for Nominet, with no real business case.
“The .uk namespace is one of the most popular and trusted available and we’re committed to ensuring it stays up-to-date and relevant,” Nominet CEO Lesley Cowley said. “We’re excited to offer the option of a shorter, snappier domain name that we believe will appeal to both our existing customers and the businesses and bloggers of tomorrow.”
Nominet intends to roll out an outreach program to ensure customers are clear on the changes, and plans to announce a definitive launch date by February 2014.