Updated June 1, 2021
Everyone can be a Star
(December 3, 2020)
Examples (March 1, 2021)
Questions and Answers (June 1, 2021)
Background (June 15, 2021)
For Developers (January 1, 2021)

Multiplexed Internet Domain Names

Why and How

Imagine that domain names are like towns and cities.  Some top-level domains are huge, many are small, and some are definitely ghost towns.

Each town and city has named streets and roads, but there can only be one street of any particular name in each town.  In today's domain name system today, you have to own your own street to live in that city.

Now imagine that several people or companies want to live on 'the same street' in the same town.  You add house numbers to street names for each property.  It means you don't need to own your street just to live there, you need a property address on the street.

That's the simple, real life principle behind Multiplexed Domain Names.  The concept and technology are simple.  The idea isn't established for domain names the way it is for street addresses, so public acceptance may be a little harder - but it's worth the effort, given the advantages. 

Occam's razor -
Multiplexed Domain Names are the fastest, easiest, cheapest, most equitable, safest and most judicious way to solve complex domain name problems and provide any individual or organization with a short, appropriate, easy-to-remember domain name under their preferred domain top level.

Generic name users want .com domains and national users often prefer country code domains, but domain multiplexing can be applied equally to any top level.

ICANN's new generic TLDs lost 9,178,931 registrations between June 1, 2020, and June 1 this year, while legacy .com added 7,000,197. 

There are now 155 million .com names registered.  Where will the next 150 million .com names come from?


Müller is the most common surname in Germany, but there can be only one müller.de
Martin is the most common surname in France,
but there can be only one martin.fr
Silva is the most common surname in Brazil, but there can be only one silva.br
Ford is a dictionary term (noun and verb), a place name, a first name, a family name, the name of a theater, a company name and a trademark term with several different owners. 
- But there can be only one ford.com

Do you see the problem in this pattern?

Most names, and even trademark terms, are not unique!

The domain name system is hierarchical, Multiplexed Names add a hierarchical level within second level names.  This extra level supports multiple use of 'the same' name without ambiguity under the same top-level domain.  Examples could include name.com, name*1.com, name*2.com, etc.

We suggest the asterisk as a multiplexing symbol since it is universally known and often means 'wildcard' - potentially 'one of many'. 

Inserting the asterisk in domain names requires a small code addition to browsers.  That's because the asterisk, by design, is part of the character set that cannot be translated by the Internationalized Domain Name (IDN) software that lives in every web browser. 

An alternative, IDN-based solution is quick and simple but wouldn't work in the US and isn't universal.  National or regional variants could facilitate the rapid application of name multiplexing.  For example, the Euro sign could provide a simple multiplexing token for members of the  European Union: examples could include müller€1.de, martin€2.fr, and so on.  The UK could apply the pound sign £ for the same purpose. 

Universality - the same character meaning the same thing regardless of TLD - is highly desirable however for security and inter-operability.

Name Multiplexing is needed most in the popular .com and country code TLDs but can be applied equally to all top-level domains.

Problems solved by Multiplexed Names include:

- Anyone can get any name they have a right to, under any TLD. This respects the reality that most names, and even trademark terms, aren't globally unique.  Companies, organizations and people can identify themselves by their familiar names.

- No one can buy and warehouse a domain name to prevent it from being used, or to extract an unreasonable price.  Name speculation, which raises prices by restricting access to names, becomes less profitable.

- The large number of parked names should decrease (and become generally available).

- Domain names would return to their originally intended use as addresses.

- 'Premium' domains would be determined by the value of their content, not by the character string of their name.

- The confusing proliferation of additional ngTLDs could be avoided.

- While it makes most name ownership disputes superfluous, names you 'have a right to' may be restricted depending on jurisdiction or location (country code or geographic TLDs) or type of business.  Examples include .bank, which was always intended to be restrictive, as well as .brand TLDs.

- The technology is transparent and without negative impact on the familiar, existing system.  The system is backward compatible.  No current name owners will lose their domain names.  Prototype Multiplexed Names have run on the Internet within the current domain name system.

- They provide a platform for further development, opening new opportunities.

- They level the Internet playing field by opening the Internet for
additional 'normal' name users.


In principle, modern browsers that combine the address line with a search function already support the concept of Multiplexed Names. 


Would this proposal grant Verisign, who run the .com registry, an unfair advantage?
No, user preference is the final arbiter
since this proposal treats all top-level domains equally. 
Domain names as we know them were introduced in 1983.  The only major improvement since then was the introduction of Internationalized Domain Names that support characters and scripts outside standard ASCII English.  IDNs were introduced in 2003!

More than 1900 ngTLD applications were submitted and over 1200 new TLDs have been delegated (made active) since October, 2013, but they don't solve user problems.  How many of the 1200 can you name? 

When the US Department of Commerce created ICANN they never mentioned customer benefit or user demand.  Their primary concern was: 
 "... widespread dissatisfaction about the absence of competition in domain name registration." 
ICANN was built on supply side push - Internet users were never asked if they wanted thousands of new top-level domains.  The results show we didn't.

The DoC also runs the US Patent and Trademark Office.  They could have said: "compete by inventing a better system" but instead ICANN was founded and populated by groups that supported launching new TLDs - to have product to sell.


ICANN's new generic top-level domains - fiasco, farce, fraud?

Legacy .com TLD continues to grow.  The number of registered .com domains is now over 155 million.  The 266 county code TLDs together add 156.5 million registrations.

How have ICANN's new generic top-level domains worked out?  Very poorly!

Site NameStat.org has traced ngTLD growth for years, they follow 1239 new generic domains.

- The ngTLDs lost 9.2 million registrations from June 1, 2020, through June 1, 2021.  Figures have rebounded a little since May 1.

Site ntldstats.com follows 1171 ngTLDs but has a slightly different count - they include sites pending deletion and redemption.
Ntldstats includes a timeline from February, 2014, to today, including a graphic slider to allow focusing on specific periods.
 
-
The total number of registrations they count has fallen below the level first reached in October, 2016.  An additional 74 new top levels have become generally available since then (source: ntldstats.com and /launch).  Ntldstats shows a continuing decline in ngTLD registrations.

- Failing to see a return on investment, numerous organizations (at least 85 so far) have cut their losses and withdrawn or discontinued their .brand ngTLDs.
 

- Much of the past year's loss relates to one domain (.icu) which has fallen from 6.3 million registrations in April, 2020, to 596-thousand today (source: namestat.org/).

The ngTLD in question lost 124,774 registrations on February 11, and 190,406 on Feb. 27.  We have not seen any comment from the ngTLD support community questioning .icu's unrealistic inflation and subsequent loss of registrations.

A reasonable question: who registered all the 'expendable' domain names, and why?
 
Was the registry running a
'fear of missing out' ploy, hoping that casual users would register more domains, or was it perhaps an attempt to create a false secondary market with inflated prices? Any well financed registry can try to pad its figures to show the popularity of a new top-level domain.
 
Since ICANN earns 18 cents per registration, they have earned over one million dollars from registrations that have now vanished from .icu.  It is not in I
CANN's self interest to question this kind of 'experimental marketing'.
 

Another reasonable question: how reliable are any registry statistics regarding their ngTLD names; can we
believe the reported size of the market at all?   Is it realistic that only 10 among 1200 new domains should account for more than half the name registrations?  Why those 10?

ICANN's new TLDs aren't alone in presenting questionable registration figures.  Country code .tk - for Tokelau, an island country with about 1,500 residents - has ranked among the most populated (if not popular) top-level domains.  It has 4,984,217 registered names today. 
A 2019 study by Singapore Data Company indicated that only 1/3 of 2,188 tested .com wed sites presented user accessible content, 1/3 appear to be unused, and the final 1/3 were held for speculative purposes.
 

Was this the kind of 'competition' envisioned by the Department of Commerce when it sanctioned ICANN? 

Abuses are based on the domain name system's immature technology.  Multistakeholder governance has not prevented these abuses.  Multiplexed Names combat them. 

The Internet Domain Name System was never designed to provide universal naming, and that caused a number of problems now so ingrained that most people accepted them as inevitable.  Things as common as domain name disputes, name warehousing and auctions, and the drive to market unwanted new TLDs are consequences of a system not designed to provide universal naming.

Most people, companies and trademark holders can't use their own names under their preferred top-level domain.

The DNS is a technical system written to a technical specification.  Problems can be resolved by extending the specification; Internationalized Domain Names show it is possible.

Multiplexed Domain Names introduce a hierarchy within second level names. This makes the name-space under any top-level domain virtually unlimited.  We need a new character to identify/generate a hierarchy.  We suggest the asterisk as a multiplexing token, together with a number or letter(s).

Compare the multiplexing token to the character that designates email addresses.  MaratSade.fr could be seen as a domain name, but write it Mar@Sade.fr and you recognize it instantly as an email address. 

The same transparency can apply to domain names if an asterisk indicates multiple use of the same name.  Martin*2.fr and Martin*5.fr would resolve as different, separate domains under the French country code domain.

The asterisk is often used as a wild card character indicating 'one of many'.  The final number (or letter) indicates 'which' of several users of the same name.

Technically, names are registered in a set format and translated by a simple edge application to include the multiplexing token. This is similar to, but not the same as, the system used to generate foreign characters and scripts in Internationalized Domain Names.

Aren't domain names ICANN's responsibility?  Can't you just add numbers, or edit the software already used to translate foreign characters?  See the answer to those and other relevant questions under: Questions and Answers  (Updated May 2, 2021).

When did it become appropriate to let organizations like ICANN define the problems, create the solutions, and then universally sanction those solutions without competition or independent oversight?   

Multiplexed Names nested with Internationalized Names would make Universalized names available to anyone, anywhere, in any language or script - under their country code, legacy, or preferred new generic top-level domain.

Is registering your own name, under your preferred TLD, a human right? Or do you support a privileged minority owning their names and excluding the majority.

Registering your own domain name isn't a problem when Everyone can be a Star. (Updated December 3, 2020)

Multiplexed Names demonstrate how the Internet domain name system can evolve to eliminate unnecessary restrictions and provide relevant names for everyone. 

Multiplexed Names are not offered as a supported product; we have no interest, past or present, in any domain registry, registrar, or re-seller.

The combined URL address line/search field in modern browsers is ready to support Multiplexed Domain Names through disambiguation. 

The Multiplexed Domain Names in our test follow all applicable Internet standards, but the translation format we have used is not standardized.


Last updated June 15, 2021

W. Kenneth Ryan