The number of .ie domain names registered in the first months of 2004 has risen sharply, new figures from the IE Domain Registry (IEDR) show. The number of registrations was up 50pc in the first quarter of 2004, compared with the same period last year. For the first five months of the year, the increase was 48.8pc.
The registrations peaked in March, when the gross number of domains registered (a figure that excludes deletions or suspensions) was 1,232 compared to 697 in March 2003. The average gross number of additions per month exceeded 900.
At the end of December 2003, there were 35,426 registered .ie domain names. This number has now risen to approximately 39,000 and if present trends continue the total will have risen well beyond 40,000 by the year-end. However, this number, as a proportion of the total population or GDP, is still low by international standards.
The surge in registrations is more good news for the IEDR. Last month, the company published its annual accounts for 2003 which recorded profits of €480K on a turnover of €2m, compared with an operating loss of €1.2m in 2002.
Speaking to siliconrepublic.com, David Curtin, CEO of the IEDR, said the outlook for the current financial year was equally positive. “We would hope to repeat the performance of 2003 and if things go our way perhaps do a little bit better.”
The improving financial situation at the IEDR follows a torrid three-year period during which former CEO Mike Fagan was suspended and then resigned, costs spiralled out of control, losses mounted, and customers were in revolt over poor service levels.
Concerns over the damaged reputation of the Registry were behind the April announcement by Communications Minister Dermot Ahern TD that the regulation and control of the organisation was to be transferred to the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg). Legislation is currently being drafted to effect this transfer, which is expected to happen within the coming months.
Curtin told siliconrepublic.com that he welcomed the development. “I think anything that improves the perception of the IEDR in the eyes of the consumer has to be positive,” he said. However, he dismissed the idea that the transfer was the equivalent to “a takeover” by ComReg.
“We’ve been told by the Department that the intention is that it will be regulation with a small ‘r’ rather than a capital ‘R’ – it will be light regulation. ComReg is not in the business of running companies; they regulate companies such as Eircom and Esat, they don’t operate them; I’d expect the same thing with the IEDR.”
Curtin, who joined the company as financial controller in November 2002 and has been CEO since January this year, said that a programme to cut costs and improve liquidity of IEDR that began in late 2002 had been very effective. He added that the company had met with its largest creditors and agreed a new payment schedule to repay monies owed. “There are no significant creditors out there now that have problems with us,” he stated.
He noted that the key priorities for the year were to keep costs low and to grow top-line revenue. He identified one of the ongoing priorities as being to rebuild trust with the IEDR’s reseller community, the indirect sales channel consisting of ISPs and web hosting companies that accounts for roughly 80pc of domain names sold.
The IEDR is based in Sandycove, Co Dublin and has 10 employees.
By Brian Skelly