The race is on for one and two-letter IE domain names as Irish companies and major international brands compete for over 600 desirable combinations in the ‘Landrush’ phase of the newly opened namespace, which closes on March 22.
Before now, one and two-letter domain names were not allowed by the IE Domain Registry (IEDR), with the notable exception of ul.ie for the University of Limerick. Now they are being introduced in a phased process.
Already, some trademark holders have staked their claims in the ‘Sunrise’ period which ended in December.
Those include international brands with an Irish presence: BT and BP, for example, have secured their respective IE domain names. As expected, technology and Internet companies are well represented: including Apple, HP, Paypal and Craigslist.
Irish companies who took part in Sunrise phase include Eircom and Roadstone, who registered the single-letter domain r.ie.
One iconic Irish brand name which is known by just two letters is AA Ireland. Its Head of Online, Eamonn Grant said that they are delighted to have secured the name AA.ie.
“The domain ‘AA.ie’ is something we have been tracking for 3 years now with serious interest. As a brand, we feel it is really important for our URL to match what people know us as. We were delighted to see that the IEDR were releasing 2 letter domains as it gave us the opportunity to get our hands on the domain.”
In Sunrise, companies proved their right to register a domain based on their trademark. But now the Landrush phase is underway, contested domain names will be awarded to the highest bidder.
“You will still have to satisfy the IEDR’s usual rules about proving a connection to Ireland”, said Michele Neylon, CEO of Blacknight, Ireland’s largest domain name registrar and hosting company.
“If only one application is received for a domain name, then it can be registered for the basic Landrush fee, which at Blacknight is just €129”, he explained. “But if two or more applications for the same name are received before the deadline on March 22, then it will go to auction.”
If a name goes to auction, IEDR will contact eligible applicants directly after the March 22 deadline. Auctions will have a zero reserve, and the IEDR says that proceeds from auctions will be gifted to charitable Irish Internet causes involved in the promotion of internet usage within Ireland.
Once the Landrush phase is over and the auctions are completed, the remaining one and two-letter domain names can be registered in the usual way when ‘General Availability’ begins on 19 April.
So far, 39 one and two-letter domain names have either been registered in the Sunrise phase, or reserved by IEDR. That still leaves over 600 possible one and two-letter domains which are there for the taking. The list includes single numbers as well as letters, explains Neylon, who points out that two digit numbers and number/letter combinations have never been restricted. Some are still available and can be registered without delay in the normal way for just €19.99 at Blacknight.
“The best way to find out what’s available is to use the domain search tool at Blacknight.com”, says Neylon. “Our system interfaces directly with the registries and you can search for availability in hundreds of top-level domains. If a domain is available you can register it immediately, and if it’s in the Landrush process you can submit your application.”