The UK internet namespace is set for shakeup, with Nominet set to introduce shorter .uk domain names for the first time next summer.
The internet registry company has confirmed that, as of next year, companies will be able to choose between registering domain names that end in .uk, as well as .co.uk and .org.uk.
No definitive launch date for the .uk domain names has been announced yet, although Nominet said it intends to confirm one by February 2014.
Web users that already hold a .co.uk address will be given five years to decide if they want to swap their existing name for one ending in .uk.
Furthermore, in cases where there are competing addresses, such as itpro.co.uk and itpro.org.uk, the owner of the .co.uk version will be given first dibs on claiming the .uk domain.
The Nominet news follows on from ICANN's decision last month to start rolling out the latest crop of its generic top-level domains, a process that looks set to continue into 2014.
As such, the number of domain names looks set to soar over the next 12 months.
Speaking to IT Pro, Eleanor Bradley, chief operating officer at Nominet UK, said the change was an important step in ensuring the UK namespace maintains its competitive edge.
"The major changes we're going to see in the domain name industry will really be kicking off in earnest next year with the introduction of these new generic top-level domains, and we're keen to ensure .uk continues to evolve and really holds its own among the other [domains] that are coming online," Bradley explained.
"We want to make sure what we're offering continues to evolve and move forward. It's something we've heard over the years many times, people saying they'd like the option to register shorter domains."
Bradley was also quick to quash suggestions the move would result in the .co.uk suffix eventually being phased out.
"That's absolutely not our intention. This is something new. It will be available to existing registrants of the other domain names we have, but we will continue to promote and are absolutely committed to org.uk and co.uk and all the other second-level domains we currently have," she stressed.
Nominet confirmed the wholesale price for buying a .uk domain will be 3.50 per year for a 12-month registration, and 2.50 per year for multi-year deals.
The charges are in line with what it costs to register a .co.uk address, a move Bradley said the company took to help keep the financial burden of running an online business low for its customers.
Bradley also went on to flesh out some of the other benefits the move may bring to business users.
"[A .uk web address] is shorter, snappier and potentially more memorable. We know internet users trust .uk domain names, and we've conducted some research and 4/5 UK consumers would choose to go to a .uk website over one in another top-level domain," she said.
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