Nominet has announced a three-month consultation to decide how it should release one-letter, two-letter and single-number domains for registration.
The organisation, which owns the national registry for all .uk domain names ending .co.uk, .org.uk and .me.uk, is currently unable to offer the short domains owing to the rules set up at the organisation's founding in 1996.
Nominet is now proposing to lift these restrictions as the technical and policy reasons for withholding these domains have ceased to be relevant.
Nick Wenban-Smith, senior legal counsel at Nominet, said that the consultation period will give companies and stakeholders a chance to offer their opinions on Nominet's planned approach.
"After much discussion the policy committee of Nominet decided that a 'sunrise' approach, like that used for the rollout of the .eu and .asia domains, is the best way to offer the new domains to ensure that key combinations are fairly assigned," he said.
The 'sunrise' approach uses a three-stage system. The first stage sees domains offered to companies with the exact combination of letters registered as a trademark. If two firms with the same trademark apply, an auction is held and the proceeds given to charity.
The second stage allows companies without the exact combination of letters registered as a trademark to apply for domains if they have a strong, justifiable reason to own the domain. Wenban-Smith said that Nominet is proposing priority to not-for-profit organisations or charities for .org.uk domains.
The third stage is a 'land rush' in which any remaining domains are assigned on a first-come first-served basis.
Wenban-Smith said that the 'land rush' system will probably be used for the new domains made available on the .me.uk suffix, as these can be registered only by individuals.
"Very few individuals have trademarks, so after the consultation period we may well come to the conclusion that it would be more straightforward to go straight to a land rush approach for these domains," he said.
The small number of possible one-letter, two-letter and single-number combinations means that there will only be around 2,300 new domains on offer. Additionally, some short domains are already in existence on .co.uk as they were formed before Nominet was created. These include .bt, .vw and .it.
The consultation closes on 8 June when Nominet will publish a summary of all responses before developing recommendations for the final release of the new domains.
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