Millionth internet site with Czech .cz domain name registered

Photo: archive of ČRo 7 - Radio Prague

The Czech internet reached a significant milestone this week, when the one millionth website with the country domain name ending of .cz was registered. The announcement was made by CZ.NIC, the body that administers domain names in the Czech Republic. Perhaps surprisingly, the majority of sites ending in .cz – 58 percent – are owned not by firms but by individuals.

Photo: archive of ČRo 7 - Radio Prague
I spoke to the head of CZ.NIC, Ondřej Filip, and began by asking him: How long it did it take to reach the magic number of one million.

“Of course we can count it from the beginning of the domain, which was in January 1993, after the Czechoslovak Federation was divided. From that time, growth was very slow, but the major increase, or the major acceleration, came in 2007, when we introduced a new registration system called FRED.

“With that system, because it was much more effective than the previous one, we could reduce the price by almost one half. Since that time the number of domains has grown at about 10,000 or 11,000 a month.”

What I can’t understand is, how come a population of only 10 million has a million domain names?

“I think we can compare to other countries with the same population as we have. For example, our neighbour Austria, or Sweden – these countries have roughly the same number of people and their domains are at the level of 1.2 or 1.3 million.

“So seeing that we can say, we are growing, we are catching the Western world. It’s probably normal. There are a lot of businesses, there are a lot of private societies, a lot of associations that need a domain, that need to present themselves. So it seems that this number is probably very correct for such a population.”

Ondřej Filip,  photo: CZ.NIC
I was surprised to read that more domain names ending in .cz are owned by individuals by companies. Why is that? Why are individuals obtaining web addresses?

“That might be a little bit tied to the structure of the database. Because those data are taken from how we see it from the database. That basically means that we check who the owner is. It might be the owner of a company who registered the domain before he has started a business. Then he uses it for company business, but didn’t change the registration.

“Of course, there is a huge group of small businesses that do ‘domaining’ – business with domains. They try to catch a very lucrative name and then sell it for a higher price, or they do what they call monetisation of those domains.”

Do you only count domains that are actually used? Have some of those domains that have been registered since 1993 not expired already?

“We count domains that we receive a payment for. That means that somebody is really willing to own the domain. We’ve also done research, looking at the domains and trying to estimate whether they are used, for what purpose, and things like that.

“We know that around 17 percent of that million are parked – they are not used currently. This means that they might be used for speculation, or they are prepared for some future business or some future activities.”

Is there any chance that the market in national ending domain names, in the .cz-ending domain name, could become in some sense ‘saturated’ in the future?

Photo: archive of ČRo 7 - Radio Prague
“Again, we need to look abroad. Our biggest neighbour, Germany, registers around 15 million domains. That’s an extraordinary number. It says that saturation may come very late.

“But again compared with countries with a similar population, we can say that the chances of some really enormous, or really quick, growth are quite limited. We don’t expect to reach the second million very soon. We expect that we will probably continue with growth of roughly 120,000 or 130,000 a year, even for the next three years, probably.”