At the beginning of my Election Statement I have professed that I consider
"the .uk namespace to be a product that millions buy into, either with their own domain name registrations made at registrars like the one you run or work for, or, by interacting with domain names as effective virtual signposts and doorways to important Internet presences, for brands both large and small, that we rely on."
I also stated that I consider that
"the .uk namespace is a product that is seen upfront and is not hidden like technical infrastructure, transit or peering. It is a product with a high standard of registrations and a good reputation that we must ensure it retains. Reputations are easily lost or wrecked and often very hard to re-establish."
The .uk namespace is no longer simply DNS and with some databases. It might have felt much more like that fifteen to twenty years ago but today it's significantly more.
The .uk namespace also isn't simply a utility like water, electricity or broadband. Every domain name registered in the .uk namespace is unique. Some of those domain names are even more unique than others. Unlike water, where one turns on a tap and hopefully water flows out, or electricity, where one plugs in a toaster or kettle and the item functions as the result of being powered, or even broadband, where predominately one receives Internet connectivity although I accept that some limited differentiation exists between providers, a domain name often has resonance and significance for its registrant. Most of us don't see that level of differenation with our utility providers.
If one contracted a domain name registrar to buy a .uk domain name none would offer up the nearest freshly minted domain name that had come from a .uk registry production line of domain names. Unlike my examples of utilites (water, electricity or Internet connectivity), a domain name is one of a kind and is selected by its registrant after a number of varying processes that caused them to decide to distinctly make a choice to register it.
On this basis I purport that the .uk namespace is a product in itself and needs be constantly treated as one. Creative people often wish to associate their creativite work with good domain names and them doing so serves to publicise the namespace they register within. Conversely creative people often don't want to be associated with the untrendy or damaged. They often runaway or disassociate themselves with things they see that have become that because it's no good for business if they stuck around for too long.
It's sometimes the case that the most technical people among us may not necessarily be the most creative or switched on in respect to what the wider domain name userbase likely care about. I believe this to be true in the domain name industry and particularly so in .uk. Some of them don't consider the .uk namespace to be a product as I have described or that
"unlike many other ccTLD namespaces, the .uk namespace has a significant competitor (i.e. .com) selling to customers based in its traditional home market and one that is owned by a highly well-resourced private company that continues to want to gain market share."
On the basis of the above I have stated that
"I do not consider Nominet to have a monopoly of domain name registrations targeting UK Internet users."
I absolutely and fundementally believe this to be the case. Nominet has great competition and those managing the .uk namespace must always be mindful of that.
The .uk namespace is first and foremost the reason why almost all of us are involved with Nominet. Other issues, great and important as some of them may be, would fall away if the .uk namespace reputation and desirability. That's something I want to continue to make sure doesn't happen.