Everyone can be a Star
Questions and Answers
For Developers

Multiplexed Internet Domain Names
why and how

Multiplexed domain names introduce a hierarchy within second level names.  This extra level supports multiple use of 'the same' name without ambiguity.  Examples could include name.com, name*1.com, name*2.com, etc.

Since legacy generic TLDs and country code TLDs increasingly outperform ICANN's ngTLDs, that's where innovation would be most beneficial.

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 trademarks, aren't unique.

- 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 the content they present, not by the character string of their name.

- The confusing proliferation of additional new generic TLDs could be avoided.

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

- The technology is transparent and without negative impact on the familiar, existing system.  Prototype multiplexed names have been tested live on the Internet and work within the current domain name system.

- They provide a platform for further innovation.

- They level the Internet playing field for everyone.

Domain names were introduced in 1983. The only major improvement since then was when global users demanded characters and scripts outside standard ASCII English; the Internet Engineering Task Force developed IDNA - Internationalizing Domain Names in Applications to meet the need.  That step was taken back in 2003, the year before Facebook was launched.

When ICANN was first proposed by the US Department of Commerce, the primary issue they addressed was: "... widespread dissatisfaction about the absence of competition in domain name registration."  The DoC never mentioned customer benefit or user demand.  ICANN was built on supply side push - Internet users were never asked if they wanted thousands of new Top Level Domains.

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.

More than 1900 ngTLD applications were submitted and over 1200 new TLDs have been delegated (made active) since October, 2013, but users don't want them. They haven't solved user problems.

Legacy TLDs, specially .com, continue to grow.  Over 132,000,000 .com names are registered.

The 255 county code TLDs together account for at least another 143,000,000 registrations.

How have ICANN's 1,200 new generic Top Level Domains worked out?  Not very well.

- The total number of ngTLD registrations peaked at over 29 million before falling sharply; the count today is just under 20 million.

- Total registrations haven't been this low since June of 2016; more than a year and a half of ngTLD growth has been wiped out.  The .com TLD grew by more than 5.3 million registrations in the same time peiod.

Most Internet users will never encounter most ngTLDs in use.

- Failing to see the value, some corporations have already withdrawn their applications for corresponding .brand TLDs, and the decline in registered ngTLD names shows that early investors are pulling back from the market.

- Registrants still hold an average of 7.5 names each, but this is down from 11.5 back in March, 2017.

How domain names are used means more than registration statistics; unfortunately most domain names aren't actually used.  Statistics from NGTLDstats.com tell us 66% of the registrations they've examined don't provide unique content (parked, redirected, or HTTP error).

If ngTLDs leave domain name problems unresolved, what does ICANN propose to do?   Oh, they're talking about opening yet another round of ngTLD applications!   Not-for-profit ICANN is sitting on a cash reserve of $96 million!

How does the domain name situation support the Internet and its users?   It doesn't.  The ngTLDs are a vehicle for speculation.

Isn't it time to consider what users want, instead of what ngTLD merchants want users to buy?

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 add new TLDs focus on consequences of the system not being designed to provide universal naming.

The basic problem: most people, companies and trademark holders can't use their own name 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.  This was done when internationalized domain names made it possible to use 'foreign' characters and scripts in domain names.

Since the domain name system is hierarchical, multiplexed names add a hierarchical level within second level names.  It's like adding street numbers to street names within a city.  This increases the name space under any Top Level Domain, making it virtually unlimited.

Since almost any combination of letters A-Z, digits 0-9 and the hyphen can be used to register domain names we need a new token character to identify/generate a hierarchy.  We suggest the asterisk (*) as a token, together with a number.

Compare it to the accepted character that designates email addresses - MaratSade.fr could be seen as a domain name, but write it Mar@Sade.fr and you recognize it immediately as an email address.  The same can apply to domain names, where the asterisk is a character indicating multiple use 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? See our response to that and other relevant questions under: Questions and Answers  (Updated August 3, 2017).

Multiplexed domain names are a technical step toward Universalized Domain Names. Merging (nesting) multiplexed names with internationalized domain names (IDNs) results in universalized names available to anyone, anywhere, in any language or script, under their preferred Top Level Domain, be it a country code, legacy, or one of the new generic TLDs.

If Internet access is considered a human right, isn't registering your own name, under your preferred TLD, also your right? Otherwise you are arguing that a privileged minority should enjoy name ownership to the exclusion of the majority.

Registering your own domain name isn't a problem when Everyone can be a Star. (Updated October 8, 2017)

Multiplexed names are not offered as a supported product, we only want to demonstrate how the Internet domain name system can evolve to eliminate the current, unnecessary naming restrictions and confusing proliferation of new TLDs.

Multiplexed domain names as tested follow all applicable Internet standards, but the translation format used in our tests is not standardized.

Last updated February 8, 2018

W. Kenneth Ryan