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Russian SU domain is here to stay

The old .su (soviet union) extension looks set to stay according to CNews. Protests by existing .su domain holders, from threats of legal action to calls to boycott ICANN, have persuaded the regulatory body to cancel plans to delete the domain.

ICANN made moves last year to delete several domain extensions, listed as ‘being phased out’ on their site. Some domain names that have already become obsolete include Great Britain’s .gb, which has been replaced by .uk, East Germany’s .dd and Zaire’s .zr after the country became the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The corporation opened public discussion on deleting these old extensions, with the Soviet Union’s .su and the former Yugoslav republic’s .yu at the top of the list.

The public discussion in Sao Paulo, Brazil lasted from 5th December 2006 to the 31St January this year. ICANN were taken back by the level of protests that dogged the proceedings, expressing regret that the ‘discussion has given birth to so many conflicts’. Elimination of the Soviet-era suffix would cause considerable damage to their owners, who have already paid to market their website and build branding. Many .su owners have questioned the authority of ICANN, in its contractual arrangement with the U.S. Government, to remove a country level domain in the first place.

The domain .su was registered in September 1990. But in 1994 when Russia’s .ru was introduced the registration of .su names was suspended to be resumed in December 2002 only for brand owners. A year later the .su extension again became available to all internet users, both domestic and foreign, without restriction.

About 97% of .su owners are residents of the Russian Federation, of them 54% are legal entities (companies). Among the remaining 3% the percentage of company owned domains is considerably higher, 84%, most likely due to brand protection. The largest number of foreign registrations comes from the U.S., Germany, Ukraine, Belarus, Switzerland, Finland and Sweden.

The .su extension is more expensive than the more commonly used .ru (Russia) domain and far less widespread. There are only about 8’000 .su domains registered while the .ru domain has passed the ½ million stage now. Herein lies its attractiveness though, there are still many valuable one-word phrases available with the .su extension.

With ICANN now agreeing to halt the execution of the .su domain, commentators expect to see the number of registrations rise substantially.

About Nick Wilsdon

Nick Wilsdon works as a Content and Digital Strategy Consultant He manages online campaigns for the UK's leading telecom, finance and FMCG brands.

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