Single-letter second-level domain

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Single-letter second-level domains are domain names in which the second-level domain consists of only one letter, such as x.com. In 1993, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) explicitly reserved all single-letter and single-digit second-level domain names in the top-level domains com, net, and org, and grandfathered those that had already been assigned. In December 2005, ICANN considered auctioning these domains.

Active single-letter domains[edit]

On December 1, 1993, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) explicitly reserved the remaining single-letter and single-digit domain names. The few domains that were already assigned were grandfathered in and continued to exist.[1][better source needed]

The assigned domains in this group are the following:

Domain 1993 Owner Current Owner
i.net INet Solutions Ltd Future Media Architects
q.com JG CenturyLink
q.net Privately owned Privately owned
x.com Weinstein & DePaolis X.Commerce/PayPal
x.org The Open Group X.Org Foundation
z.com HomePage.com Nissan Motors

Some other single-letter domain names are also in use.

Domain Current User Usage
w.org WordPress Redirects to [1], has some assets for [2] (under s.w.org) (see for example [3]).
x.com PayPal Stands for X.commerce, an eBay company.

Many other single-letter second-level domains have been registered under country code top-level domains.

Single-character non-ASCII second-level domains also exist (e.g. ☺.com), but these are actually registered as their Punycode translations (which are more than a single character) for DNS purposes.

Two-letter domain names[edit]

Two-letter .com domain names were never reserved. It was possible for anyone to register them in the very early years of the Internet (from 1985 to 1998). Since 1998 all permutations of the 26 × 26 = 676 .com domains have been registered and (barring the very unlikely event of a lapse in registration) they can only be obtained by buying them from the previous owner. In 1997 American Airlines was the first company to buy a two-letter domain AA.com on the secondary market, followed in 1998 by Hennes & Mauritz HM.com and Deutsche Bank DB.com.

Notable examples of two letter .com domains used by large corporations

Some two letter .com domains are also used as national country codes which are promoted through the private London Based Domain registration company CentralNic:

  • ar.com (websites in relation to Argentina)
  • br.com (websites in relation to Brazil)
  • cn.com (websites in relation to China)
  • eu.com (websites in relation to Europe)
  • gr.com (websites in relation to Greece)
  • hu.com (websites in relation to Hungary)
  • kr.com (websites in relation to Korea)
  • no.com (websites in relation to Norway)
  • ru.com (websites in relation to Russia)
  • sa.com (websites in relation to Saudi Arabia)
  • se.com (websites in relation to Sweden)
  • uk.com (websites in relation to the United Kingdom)
  • uy.com (websites in relation to Uruguay)
  • za.com (websites in relation to South Africa)

Most of these domains were registered by CentralNic between 1996 and 1998 at a time they were available for registration to anyone; some, like gr.com (already registered in 1994) were acquired later.

There are also 26 × 10 x 2 = 520 less prominent .com two letter domains with a combination of letters and numbers:

Two-letter domains with other extensions are less prominent but they are also used by notable companies and organizations:

In most TLDs such as .fr, .info, two-letter domains are not available.

Market value of single- or two-letter domains[edit]

Only three of the 26 possible single-letter domains have ever been registered in the .com domain extension, all before 1992. The other 23 single-letter .com domains were registered January 1, 1992 by Jon Postel, with the intention to avoid a single company commercially controlling a letter of the Alphabet. Many but not all .com two-letter domains are among the most valuable domains.

While it is widely believed that the domains business.com and sex.com have been the most valuable domain transactions, prominent two-letter domains have only been sold after nondisclosed transactions handled by specialized broker and law firms.

The value of the LG Corp (the South Korean electronics conglomerate formerly known as Lucky Goldstar) purchase of LG.com was never published. LG Group missed the first sale of the domain in 2008 from the original owner the chemical company Lockwood Greene to the .com entrepreneur Andy Booth who currently runs www.Booth.com, he had used it to launch a footballing website known as LifeGames. They bought it one year later, in 2009, for a significant amount. Following the purchase LG Group changed worldwide marketing to LG.com, which is now their central internet address for all countries. All national LG Country domains like "LG.de" or "LG.com.mx" redirect to "LG.com".

The value of the initially secret November 2010 Facebook purchase of FB.com was revealed two months later to be $8.5 million in cash and rest in stocks.[2]

IG Group paid 4,7 million in September 2013 to buy IG.com [3]

Controversy[edit]

With the 2005 announcement that registration of the remaining single-letter names might become available, some companies have attempted to establish a right to the names by claiming to own trademark rights over single letters used in such a context. U magazine, a college oriented publication, had gone so far as to re-brand its website as "U.com" (with a ™ sign) in online logos and captions—even though it does not operate a web site at that URL. They sent a letter to ICANN attempting to gain priority for registration of this name.[4] Other companies actually use their trademarks in commerce.

References[edit]

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