One hundred .ie domains were registered every day in the half-year period from 1 January to 30 June, a total of 18,179, according to the latest figures from the IE Domain Registry (IEDR).

In its third dot ie Domain Profile Report, which analyses the makeup of the .ie domain database, IEDR revealed that the .ie domain registry continues to grow at a steady rate. There are now 217,374 registered .ie domains in total; this represents an almost 6 percent increase on June 2015, or a 47.8 percent increase over the last six years.

Corporate bodies and sole traders made up 72 percent of all .ie registrations in H1 2016. This figure is in line with the total .ie database: 78 percent of all .ie domains fall into these categories.

The largest number of .ie registrations was recorded in Leinster, with 11,386 (a slight 6 percent decrease year-on-year). Encouragingly, Munster recorded a 3 percent increase year-on-year in new .ie registrations, with 3,312.

40 percent of all new .ie registrations in H1 2016 were recorded in Dublin, followed by Cork (8 percent), Galway (4 percent) and Limerick (3 percent).

Last year, .ie was the domain of choice for Irish business owners, significantly ahead of .com, .eu and .org.

IEDR’s recently published dot ie Digital Health Index (June 2016) revealed that while more Irish SMEs have a website than ever, there remains a small cohort of businesses that do not see the value of a website and that have no intention of building one in the future.

These ‘offliners’ may well never register a website and could impact future growth of .ie registrations.

Compared to other EU countries, Ireland ranks joint 16 out of 20 for the number of country code domains per 1,000 people, with 46. By this metric, Ireland ranks ahead of larger countries like France and Spain, but significantly behind other countries of similar size, like Denmark (232) and Norway (133).

To facilitate increased access to the .ie domain, IEDR is currently consulting the public on a new “secondary market” policy, which will allow the private sale or auction of .ie domains. Stakeholders are invited to provide feedback on the proposed policy via the IEDR website by 16 August.

Commenting, David Curtin, Chief Executive of IEDR, said:

“The continued overall growth of the .ie domain clearly demonstrates that an increasing number of businesses and individuals recognise the value of an authentic and trustworthy ‘Identifiably Irish’ brand. Last year, we recorded just under one hundred .ie domain registrations every day, so it’s very encouraging to see us to surpass that in the first half of 2016.

“However, we are noting a trend in registrations that matches up with the findings in our most recent dot ie Digital Health Index. While our research showed that more and more businesses recognise the importance of an online presence, a small cohort of businesses still remains offline—55 percent of this group have no intention of changing this. This mentality, coupled with weaknesses in internet infrastructure, may continue to have an adverse impact on future .ie registrations.

“It’s essential that we emulate the ‘Nordic-style’ approach to e-commerce. DESI, the EU’s ‘digital economy and society index’ for companies with more than 50 employees, ranks Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland in the top five EU countries based on five key pillars, including internet connectivity and integration of digital technology. Ireland ranks ninth, behind the UK. Our government and internet industry must continue to work hand in hand to emulate the successes of our Nordic neighbours and make sure that rural Ireland is not left behind in the internet revolution.

“Ireland is being hamstrung by an inadequate high-speed broadband infrastructure. Continued delays to the National Broadband Plan are keeping many Irish SMEs offline. Of the offline SMEs that we surveyed as part of our dot ie Digital Health Index, 1 in 4 said that a lack of reliable broadband was the primary factor keeping them from engaging in e-commerce. This is not only stunting regional development, but holding back the full potential of Ireland’s digital economy.

“Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) and Chambers of Commerce must also provide top-class digital enterprise programmes to those SMEs who are ready and willing to make the jump online. The creation of a standardised and comprehensive e-commerce curriculum for SMEs, led and financially supported by the Government, would be an excellent start. IEDR is thoroughly committed to working with industry partners to help aspiring SMEs improve their online presence. Our annual OPTIMISE Fund awards fifteen Irish SMEs 10 days’ worth of digital consultancy, training and tangible website improvements to improve e-commerce functionality. The Fund is currently valued at €125,000.”

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