There were 205.3 million domain addresses by the end of 2010, 6.3 percent more than the end of 2009, according to the latest numbers from Verisign. A little over half of the registered domains have a .com or .net extension, Verisign said.
That number is expected to continue its upward swing. In a research note published March 2, Wedbush Securities estimated Verisign would register 3.2 million new .com and .net domain names in the 2011 first quarter. Verisign had estimated between 2.3 million to 2.6 million new domains for the quarter.
There were 12.1 million more new addresses registered in 2010 than in 2009, an annual growth of 6.3 percent, according to the Verisign Domain Name Industry Brief report, released March 1. In fact a total of 7.6 million new .com and .net addresses were registered in 2010, bringing the grand total up to 105.2 million .com/.net addresses.
Overall, the total number of domains increased by 3.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2010, up 1.7 percent from the last quarter of 2009, according to the report. This number took into account domains that expired and were not renewed.
Renewal rates of .com domains remained more or less steady at about 73 percent, the report found.
Of the registered .com and .net domains, about 88 percent of the addresses actually resolve to a Website, Verisign said. However, about a quarter of them were under construction, brochures, parked packages or online advertising generating pages, according to Verisign.
The .org TLD was the fourth most registered domain, bumping .co.uk down to fifth, according to the report. The top three remained .com, country code top-level domains (ccTLD) and .net. The .info TLD was sixth on the list.
About 80.1 million of the addresses have a country-specific domain, the report said. Addresses with the German .de ccTLD was the most popular in the quarter, followed by the United Kingdom's .uk, China's .cn, the Netherlands' .nl and the European Union's .eu, the report said. The Russian TLD .ru, commonly used for spam relays and other malicious sites, ranked sixth on the list of top ccTLD registrations, according to the report.
While there are 240 ccTLDs, 10 codes accounted for 61 percent of all registered addresses, the report found.
Verisign's report also mentioned the new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) currently under review. Although the precise date of the launch "remains uncertain," the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is nearing completion of its gTLD launch plan and could start reviewing applications by the summer, Verisign said. Within "months of the launch," users will be able to pick from an "unprecedented array" of TLDs, including .shop, .bank, .nyc and .london, the company said.
The Domain Name Industry Brief report also highlighted the transition to IPv6. While "less visible to ordinary Internet users," enterprises have to ensure critical infrastructure is set up to support both IPv6 and IPv4 simultaneously, according to the company. Verisign said its network has been IPv6-ready for a number of years, and it will be continually expanding its capacity and capabilities.
The Internet is also getting busier, as more people visit more sites. Verisign's average daily DNS query load in the last quarter of 2010 was 61 billion, up 17 percent from 2009, the report said. There were days when the query load exceeded 72 billion, Verisign said.