Domain Names

Source e-Business Live

It's a common conundrum: should you buy the cheaper, standard product, or should you shell out a little bit more for an exclusive item to help you stand out from the crowd? On the World Wide Web, the dot-com domain name could be considered the High Street item, while dot-ie - the domain name specifically for Irish companies doing business in Ireland - could be regarded as an upmarket product. So which one should Irish companies choose to adorn their internet presence? 

Every company with a web presence must register their site's name and select the top-level domain (TLD) that they want to be associated with their site. There are a number of domains to choose from, perhaps the most popular and familiar being the dot-com (.com). The dot-ie (.ie) domain is strictly reserved for companies doing business in Ireland. Other commonly used domain suffixes include dot-net, dot-biz, dot-org and dot-info. 

Dot-com versus dot-ie

Dot-com is undoubtedly the most widely used domain worldwide; the vast majority of companies own a dot-com domain name as a matter of course. Addresses for this domain are available to anyone who wants one, provided it has not already been registered, for a relatively inexpensive price. While there are a number of advantages to dot-com addresses, such as low cost and relatively no obstacles to applications, the availability of domain names is severely limited at this stage, so it could prove difficult to get the web address you want.

Applying for a dot-com domain name is relatively easy. Applications are made through companies called registrars, which are based around the world. Applicants simply provide contact and technical information to the registrar and, provided the domain name has not been previously registered by anyone else, it is awarded to the applicant. The registrar keeps records of applicants' contact details and submits the technical data to a central directory known as the registry. The registry provides other computers on the internet with the information necessary to send your company an email or to find your company's website.

While dot-com domain names are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, the dot-ie domain is more exclusive. It is what is called a ccTLD (country code Top Level Domain), or a managed national internet address. Other ccTLDs include (UK), dot-fr (France), dot-de (Germany) and dot-es (Spain).

Only registered companies can apply for a dot-ie domain suffix and, while it costs a lot more than a dot-com, all applications are thoroughly checked out, which can encourage consumers to conduct online transactions with that company. The IE Domain Registry (IEDR), which allocates dot-ie domains, believes that a dot-ie domain "conveys commercial credibility and respectability".

Having a dot-ie domain should be considered a business decision, according to the IEDR. It establishes a company as an Irish company doing business in Ireland and, the IEDR says, it serves to differentiate the website from the "dot-com crowd". In applying for a dot-ie domain name, the IEDR recommends making the application through a registered dot-ie re-seller, as it is generally cheaper than applying through the IEDR itself. 

There are four steps involved in the application process:

  • Make sure your chosen domain name is not currently registered by checking the search facilities on the IEDR website.
  • Read the IEDR registration guide to ensure you have all necessary documentation such as company number and registered trademark name.
  • Arrange domain name hosting through an ISP or hosting company.
  • Send all the necessary information to your chosen re-seller or the IEDR.

The IEDR advises Irish companies to maximise their marketing opportunities by registering both dot-ie and dot-com domain names. This can help your company to appear in search results on search engines such as and, thus doubling your potential market exposure.


The dawn of dot-eu

After a number of false dawns, the dot-eu (.eu) domain was finally announced in June. Reserved specifically for companies operating within the European Union and European residents, the dot-eu domain will initially go through a 'sunrise period' involving two stages. IE Internet, the company that has been accredited as a dot-eu registrar here in Ireland, expects stage one to begin in October. At this point, all governments and companies with trademarked names will be able to apply for dot-eu domain names. Phase two is reserved for charities and non-profit organisations. Following the sunrise period, the application process will continue on a free-for-all basis, similar to that of the dot-com procedure.  

Because of this first-come, first-served ethos, IE Internet recommends that companies who wish to register their company name as a dot-eu domain apply immediately, to make sure they are first in line for the domain name they desire. Getting in at the beginning can offer companies a certain competitive advantage. Unlike the dot-com domain, there is more opportunity for companies to get the dot-eu name they want. By registering their dot-eu domain name, Phelim O'Connell, managing director of IE Internet, believes companies can protect their brand and trade more effectively in the pan-European marketplace.  

While O'Connell does not think a dot-eu domain name should replace a dot-ie domain, he does consider this an ideal opportunity for start-up companies to register as a European company on the World Wide Web, thus opening up their company to more opportunities.