This evening I renewed two of my .uk domains for 8 years (bringing them up to a maximum of 10 years each), in advance of Nominet’s imminent price hike.
From 1 March 2016 the cost of domains in the UK namespace (.uk and its subsidiaries) will increase by 50%. This is the first price increase since 2000, so we cannot complain too much about the fact that prices are going up. However, Nominet have said that they will now review pricing annually, meaning that this is not necessarily a one-off price increase after a 16-year freeze, but that we could begin to see price increases year-on-year. This sort of uncertainty is plain ridiculous, especially from a not-for-profit company which already turns a profit.
One should also note the recent change to Nominet’s Terms and Conditions which removes the reference to cost-recovery from the fee-setting clause – it would appear that this not-for-profit is quite keen to make as much money as it can with what is ultimately the British public’s .UK namespace (see also: auction of two- and one-letter .co.uk and .me.uk domains, granting of access to special systems such as changing the registrant to larger registrars, somewhat pointless introduction of .UK at a previously proposed price of £20/yr – though thankfully dropped to match .co.uk).
“Nominet are supposed to be a not-for-profit, membership owned, public purpose organisation…they claim that the reason for the price increases is that their costs have risen considerably, yet they donated £3m to the Nominet trust in their 2013-2014 financial year and have reserves of more than £34m. I cannot see how they can possibly justify a price increase of any kind, let alone 50 per cent!”
– Edward Dore, director of Freethought Internet
Whilst Nominet is a member-owned company, it controls one of the UK’s most important assets, and needs to be kept in check. A subset of Nominet’s membership are calling for an EGM to vote on the proposals, but it seems very unlikely to be granted – in fact, Nominet have done all that they can to avoid calling a vote, holding a “briefing session” in London later this month (a perfect opportunity for a vote!). There is a petition running over at http://egm.uk/ which I would urge you to sign.
I agree that perhaps after a 16-year freeze it is time to increase the fee charged for .UK domains, but I believe there should be a clear policy put in place – if they were to rise in line with inflation similar to rail fares, this would be a much fairer system.