Domain prices are unregulated and rising at an alarming rate

The days of enjoying reasonably priced domain names may be coming to an end. Generic top-level domain (gTLD) owners have been significantly raising their annual fees as their extensions gain in popularity.

Rising cost of gTLDs

The new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) have been great for businesses that were previously constrained by a limited number of gTLDs. When the newer gTLDs were introduced, most of them were priced similarly to the original gTLDs. However, as they’ve gained in popularity and usage, so have their prices.

The warning signs started in 2017 when wholesale registration and renewal prices for some of the newer gTLDs jumped in price more than 1,000%! For example, .hosting jumped from $20/year to $300/year. Since then, newer gTLDs have continued to raise their prices, with some of them costing well over $2,000/year.

It’s not just the newer gTLDs that are at risk. The original ones – .com, .net, .org, and .info – may also be in jeopardy. ICANN, the organization responsible for coordinating the names and numbers that relate to internet addresses, eliminated price caps on .org and then months later allowed a private equity firm to buy .org.

What can domain registrants do to fight the rising cost of gTLDs?

You can submit comments to ICANN, and they will listen and do what the majority recommends. Just kidding. According to Timothy B. Lee, Senior Tech Policy Reporter for Ars Technica, fewer than 0.07 percent of commenters thought it would be a good idea to remove the price cap on .org domains, while more than 98 percent opposed the change. They voted to remove the price caps anyways.

Aside from replacing the ICANN Board, one thing you can do right now is register your domains for as many years as possible to lock in the price.

I recently tweeted about the need to register gTLDs for several years so you can protect yourself from rising prices. Three days after I posted that tweet, the domain registrar I use, Gandi, sent out an email message to warn customers about more rising gTLD prices that were out of their control. In the message, they suggested the same thing I did.

We strongly recommend you renew your domain names for as long as feasible (the maximum registration period is 10 years) in order to benefit from the current pricing for as long as possible.

Some of the gTLDs that are continuing to rise in price include ones that are being used by Coywolf. For example, .pro is increasing by 11% starting in 2020. While that’s not a huge jump, its pricing is still unregulated, which means in 2021, it could jump 1,000%, and I would have no recourse. That’s why I’m registering all of the domains I care the most about for up to ten years.

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Jon is the founder of Coywolf and the EIC and the primary author reporting for Coywolf News. He is an industry veteran with over 25 years of digital marketing and internet technologies experience. Follow @henshaw