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Where Do You Register New Domain Names?

Jean Guillon

Most users who already use websites have heard about domain names and they know what they are. Although .COM domains are already very popular, they are no longer as appealing as they once were, because they don't mean anything as such and all of the cool, short names have long since been registered. In 2014, this will change with the emerging new domain names. I like to think that it is possible that, with the increased communications that exists around new gTLD and the fact that many of these new domain names actually mean something, people will start paying more attention. For example, I like the idea of a www.discovery.science , but I doubt I will ever click on a discoveryscience.com.

Most users who already use websites have absolutely NO idea about the steps involved in registering a domain name. Nor should they! However, if on the first attempt at registration, it is a painful process they will not complete the transaction. If this is a current problem for the domain name industry, it does not necessarily mean that it won't change: while it takes dozens of clicks to register a domain name online via an accredited Registrar at the moment but could very well only take 4 or 5 only, using mobile apps, in the future.

Registering a domain name using a mobile application is something that already exists for some but, it is not yet widely used, so Registrants still do their registration creating an account on the website of resellers or accredited Registrars.

Where to register?

Some Registrars are world famous, others are known only locally. Some, known as 'Retail Registrars', register domain names on behalf of individuals and small businesses. Others are dedicated to managing domain name portfolios of large Corporations; these are known as 'Corporate Registrars', some of these companies have been around seemingly forever and their clients consider it normal to pay an elevated fee for the portfolio management service for the guarantee of domain name renewal and availability. Finally, there are Registrars that deal only with domain name resellers, such as IP law firms and other non-ICANN accredited bodies that register domain names on behalf of third parties; these are known as Wholesale Registrars.

Some Registrars are very, and I do mean VERY, expensive in relation to their registration costs and tell their clients their level of service is the best on earth. Some other big Corporations deal with retail Registrars because their price is fair and their standard of service is very good while some pay a fortune to be answered in English when they only speak French…

I have used many different Registrars myself and I like to deal with those that can offer what I need… but what I need is not necessarily what you need.

I favour Mailclub and NameShield as French Corporate Registrars, they are pretty well informed about new gTLDs and can offer different standard of services. They answer in English or French too and serve many renowned French Corporations. They will offer all new domain names. It will be possible to register a .SEXY or a .SCIENCE domain via these registrars.

I use GoDaddy (the largest US Retail Registrar) too for some of the domain names I own. I like the idea of answering customers in Spanish instead of in English only. The European equivalent of GoDaddy, also with a good reputation, is 1and1 which is part of the United Internet Group. Also, I don't recall any of my domain names (or email) being dropped or unavailable with this Registrar, not even once. GoDaddy and 1and1 are likely to offer many if not all new domains as well from .DOWNLOAD to .WEBCAM.

I met Eurodns a few times, they have two branches: Corporate (eBrand Services) and a Retail one. They are based in Luxembourg and plan to cover all new domains, from .BID to .GIFT. Large International Corporate Registrars like CSC (Corporation Service Company), Markmonitor or Netnames also offer a large range of services.

Lexsynergy and Com Laude are based in UK and have a brand focussed approach: from brand.ACCOUNTANT to brand.ZULU . UK IP departments will have to pay more attention on infringements in the future.

Be careful with pre-registrations...

Some Registrars have an all-round offer and, with new gTLDs coming, most do "Pre-registrations". You seriously need to trust your Registrar prior to pre-ordering, because a few, less scrupulous ones, can be bad actors and will just send you pre-registration to an auction that will begin at a ludicrous price. Even if you are the only one to have shown an interest for this particular domain name, you will have to pay for the minimum bid… It has happened in the past.

Pre-registrations give the idea that an applicant to a domain name will be granted the domain name. In fact, when you pre-register, your domain name is added to a list and once domain names are open "to all" (most of the time this is after the Sunrise Period), the Registrar tries to submit the pre-ordered domain name to registration. Sometimes, the pre-ordering registration process is explained. However, under the new gTLD regime some registries are offering to guarantee a pre-registration subject to certain conditions and certain registrars, usually the larger retail registrars, are making good use to this guarantee to offer binding pre-registrations.

Can you simply pick-up the phone?

Of course, in any case, it is important to be able to talk to someone, even if your service provider is not a Registrar but a law firm or a reseller. A problem always arises at some point and a customer needs to have his service provider fix his email(s) or website when it is down "because of the domain name".

I have had the chance to work for Corporate and Retail Registrars; I tried dozens of them for my personal use and noticed a Registrar does not survive if it does not provide a minimum level of service. Choosing a Registrar is not just a matter of price, it really is a matter of standard of service. Some domain name managers know about domains, some others don't. Some are IP departments which deal with tech departments for operations, some companies neither have nor need, domain name managers. Some companies have five domain names when some others have five thousand. Some have many brands when some just need to use generic domain names.

Choosing a Registrar is not an easy decision to make and a very important one to make since changing a Registrar is quite difficult. With new gTLDs, it is important to know that a new Registry is not permitted to recommend a particular Registrar or a service provider. For this reason, I recommend the use of an external consultant who can identify your specific needs and help you select the most appropriate Registrar for your requirements now and into the future.

By Jean Guillon, New gTLDs "only".
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