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Welcome to the .uk - Stephen Fry first to switch in new era for UK internet

From today, new, short .uk web domains are available alongside .co.uk for the first time ever, with British icon and tech enthusiast Stephen Fry the first person to make the switch.

As one of the world’s most well-known tech commentators, Stephen Fry’s decision to switch from a .com reflects the appeal of shorter, sharper .uk domains among those at the forefront of digital Britain.

Blogging at his new address, he writes: “Fret no more, people of Britain. The day of .uk is upon us. And team stephenfry.com — as with all things — is proud to be ahead of the curve, or at least cresting it. stephenfry.uk is launched today with a fanfare and an unfurling of the Union Flag.”

UK domain registry Nominet is rolling out the world’s largest welcome sign – reading ‘welcometothe.uk’ – at Heathrow airport to mark the biggest change to the UK internet infrastructure since it began.

View more pictures or watch the video.

Visible from as high as 35,000 feet, and measuring nearly 10,000 square feet, the welcome sign is positioned on the approach to the main runway at London Heathrow airport, to greet those arriving. 40% larger than the ‘Hollywood’ letters, and hundreds of times the size of the traditional British welcome signs that frequent motorways up and down the country, the welcometothe.uk sign took ten men over eight hours to put in place.

With research revealing that three quarters of British internet users prefer sites ending in .uk when searching or buying online, the introduction of 'example.uk' will allow businesses a more succinct web address, comparable to what is available internationally in the likes of Germany’s .de and France’s .fr.

When presented with a series of new domains, such as .company, or .london, sites ending in .uk remain the first choice for 93% of internet users. Those opting for a brand new .uk will benefit from being part of this trusted, popular namespace that is overwhelmingly preferred by Brits, while embracing the shorter option.

Eleanor Bradley, Chief Operating Officer of Nominet said: “We’re delighted that Stephen Fry has chosen .uk, given that he’s known for being an early digital adopter. We wanted to welcome him and everyone else to the brand new .uk domain in a big way – so why not do it with the world’s biggest welcome sign?

“The new .uk is for people who want a short, memorable domain with the popular and trusted .uk ending. We know this combination appeals to our tech-savvy, digitally-engaged population.

“When asked if they wanted .uk to be an option alongside. co.uk, 72% of businesses questioned said yes. The UK is the world's most internet-based major economy and it's certainly one of the most active and fast-changing too – 67% of our current registrations are less than five years old. We can't wait to deliver this addition to the UK namespace and continue to build its contribution to the UK’s digital economy."

Nominet expects the new domain will appeal to tech-savvy entrepreneurs and start-up businesses wishing to tap into positive 'brand UK’ attributes, such as tech start-up Lowdownapp – switching from a .co – and independent craft lager company Saint Lager, who will be switching from a .com to enjoysaint.uk.

Over ten million existing UK domain holders will be offered first choice on the shorter equivalent of their current address, with five years to decide whether they want to use it in addition to, or instead of, the domain they already have. Nominet will be contacting these customers to ensure they’re aware of their opportunity to exercise this right.

People can sign up for the new .uk domains through domain name registrars, alongside existing domains such as .co.uk or .org.uk. For more information please visit agreatplacetobe.uk.

© Nominet UK 2012-2014