The development of number of fi-domains

The number of fi-domain names is showing steady growth. On an international scale, there may be changes in the administration of domains over the next few years.

The number of fi-domain names continued to increase steadily, with more than 53,000 new fi-domain names being granted in 2014, which is almost equal to the 2013 figure. At the end of the year, there were more than 358,000 valid fi-domain names.

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Figure: The number of valid fi-domain names.

Changes to be made in the international administration of domain names

Domain names are internationally administered and coordinated by ICANN (Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers). Because it is possible to acquire domain names other than fi-domains in Finland, the international administration of domain names has an impact, not only on fi-domains, but also indirectly on their demand. After all, different domain names partly replace one another.

By the end of 2014, ICANN delegated ap-proximately 500 new top-level domains within the scope of the new gTLD project. The most popular new domain was .xyz with nearly 750,000 registrations by the end of December 2014. On average, the popularity of new domains remained below expectations.

The most significant event of the year in terms of domain names was the conditional announcement issued by the United States Government to step down from its role as the supervisor of IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority), which maintains internet addresses. Ever since its establishment, ICANN has maintained the activities of IANA through a separate agreement with the US Department of Commerce. This agreement remained in force after ICANN was released from the supervision of the Department of Commerce in 2009. Because of the IANA agreement, the US Department of Commerce has had a right of veto regarding all changes in internet addresses. For example, changes in fi-domain servers require the approval of the Department of Commerce.

The authority of the Department of Commerce is in conflict with national laws and interests, which Russia, China, Iran and specific other countries, in particular, deem to violate their national autonomy. How-ever, there is also strong opinion in favour of the current practice because it secures, for example, freedom of speech in terms of addresses. Partly for this reason, the US Department of Commerce set a condition for the transition, according to which IANA will not be supervised by single governments or bodies appointed by governments in the future, and the organisation and supervision of the activities of IANA must largely be based on the internet community. After the Department of Commerce came forth with its announcement, a body consisting of various separate teams led by ICANN was established to prepare a transition proposal to be approved by the Department of Commerce.

This article is a part of FICORA's Communications Sector Review 2014 (1/2015).

Key words: Internet, Domain names, Articles, Reviews, Statistics

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