Active nameservers

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Active name servers  enable a domain supporting active services, such as a website or email.  Our sample of 2.4 million domains comprised IDNs in gTLDs (both top and second level) and .eu (second level), a similar number to last year.  Of these, approximately 2 million are IDNs at the second level, and 400 000 are IDNs at the top level.  The above chart shows the overall percentage of active name servers by level of TLD:

  • 58% of second level IDNs in our sample have active name servers
  • 50% of top level IDNs in our sample have active name servers

The higher rate of active name servers in second level IDNs in part reflects that they have been on available to the market for approximately a decade longer than top level IDNs, which are still comparatively new. While there is still a gap between active name server rates at the top and second level, there has been a significant improvement in the rate of active name servers at the top level compared with last year (26%). If this trend continues, we may hope to see an improvement in both renewal rates and active web content for top level IDNs in future years.

Active name servers at the second level

The rate of active name servers suggests the rate of usage of a TLD, because active name servers are an essential prerequisite in supporting services such as web sites or email. 

The largest IDN space in our sample is .com (second level), which has a 61% rate of active name servers, a 3% improvement since last year.  In .eu (second level), 82% of registrations have active name servers, a 5% increase since last year, and on a par with the rate in .info (83%).

There are significant variances between individual TLDs, as shown by an analysis of the twenty larger zones available to the research team, with rates of active name servers from as low as 6% (.wang) to more than 80% (.eu, .info and .site).  

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A high percentage of active name servers can be an indicator of quality in a TLD and of stability, as domain names which are actively in use are more likely to be renewed.  This is not always the case, however, as the number of registrations under both .wang and .top – which had active name server rates of less than 10% in December 2015 – have grown during 2016 and active name server rates remain low.

Active name servers at the top level

The top level IDNs in our sample (400 000) were launched during the past four years as part of a massive expansion of the domain name system, brought about through the ICANN new gTLD programme.

Where a TLD has a low percentage of active name servers, the individual domains comprised in that TLD could be less likely to renew. An example from the IDN space is .网址, which had more than 350,000 registrations in December 2015, but an active name server rate of only 12%. By December 2016, the number of registrations under .网址 had dropped to 74,000, but the active name server rate has improved to 34%.

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Of the new gTLDs in the sample shown above, the highest rates of active nameservers in .中文网 (‘Chinese website’ in Chinese) at 86%, .在线 (‘online’ in Chinese) at 83% and .コム (.com in Japanese, operated by Verisign) at 81%.  At the lower end of the scale are .世界 (‘world’ in Chinese) at 6%, .商城 (‘mall’ in Chinese) and .移动 (‘mobile’ in Chinese), both at 10%.