.fr growth and market share
The .fr rose 5.2% in 2017, a growth rate returning to its 2014 level and breaking with the slowdown observed from 2012 to 2016. The growth was in line with that of the 28 ccTLDs of the European Union (+5% on average), which are globally recovering with a vitality greater than that of the last four years. Regarding .fr market share, it increased 0.7 points in 2017 to 36.4%, its highest level ever. It should also be noted that the .fr market grew faster in 2017 than the French domain name market (5.2% vs. 3.2%), returning to the vitality observed before 2014.
Activity and net balance of .fr
2017 was quite exceptional for the .FR, combining a significant increase in the number of creations of +6% (668,000 in 2017 against 627,000 in 2016) confirming and amplifying the recovery already started in 2016, and a sharp drop in the number of deletions -9% in 2017, returning to the 2015 level. The .fr renewal rate jumped mechanically to 83% in 2017, a level it did not reach, even in 2011 (82.5%).
The change in the net balance of the .fr, which consisted mainly of the positive change in renewals, was therefore boosted in 2016 and 2017 by the positive change in creations.
Key .fr parameters: the create rate and the retention rate
The create rate (or sales momentum) represents the percentage of names created during the year in stock at year end. Due to the 6% increase in creations (compared with a 5.2% growth in stock), the .fr create rate improved slightly in 2017, to reach 21%.
The retention rate measures the proportion of names existing in the portfolio at the start of the year, which have not been deleted by the previous year’s end. The .fr has had a very stable retention rate since 2011, consistently higher than 80%.
Differences with European ccTLDs
The key parameters of the .fr so far have been slightly out of sync with those of its counterparts in the European Union. Its creation rate tends to be higher, while its retention rate remains below that of its counterparts. This situation can be explained by the fact that the “openings” of the .fr – abandonment of the “right to name” system in May 2004, opening to individuals in June 2006 and the nationals of the European Union in December 2011 – were significantly later than other ccTLDs such as .de or .nl.
Note that while the easing of the “right to name” was the first factor in accelerating growth, opening to individuals was the determining factor, the two of them having a cumulative effect until 2013, without the opening to the European Union having any noticeable impact. From 2013 onwards, growth slowed and we had to wait until the end of 2016 to cross the three million mark for the .fr.
.fr holders in France and Europe
As of December 31, 2017, 31% of .fr holders were located in Ile-de-France. The other regions with the most holders were Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes (12%), Languedoc-Roussillon-Midi-Pyrénées (8%), Aquitaine-Limousin-Poitou-Charentes (7%) and Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur (7%). The growth dynamics seem to be fairly evenly distributed, Ile-de-France being notably below average with 3%.
In Europe, since the opening of the .fr in 2011, the percentage of .fr filed by foreigners has continually increased ever since, from 5% in 2013 to 8.5% in 2017 (+1 point in 1 year). Foreign registrants are still mainly located in Germany (85,000 .FR against 64,000 in 2016), the Netherlands (36,000 against 30,000), the United Kingdom (33,000 against 30,000), and Belgium (31,000 against 27,000).
DNSSEC and multi-year domain name registrations
The proportion of .fr domain names signed using DNSSEC tripled between 2013 and 2017, rising from 4% to 13%, ie from 103,000 to 411,000 names. This spectacular, on-going growth still remains modest, however, compared with those of other European registries, showing that the adoption of the DNS security technology is still not yet sufficiently deployed in France.
The registrations and renewals of .fr for periods longer than 1 year (and up to 10 years), have been possible since March 30, 2015, yet their progression remains slow with only 7.9% of .fr domain names registered or renewed for durations greater than 1 year. The most frequent periods are 2 years, then 3 years, then 4 years, the 10-year period being no more than symbolic.
Lessons learnt and outlooks for 2018
One of the biggest lessons to be learnt from 2017 is undoubtedly the confirmation of the strength of .fr‘s position on the national market, with the 58% it represents in the global variation of this market. The upswing in creations, backed by this solid base and combined with a renewal rate reflecting the attachment of registrants to their domain names under .fr means we can face 2018 with a certain degree of confidence.
Afnic, however, does not intend to rely on fundamental trends to ensure the development of the namespace entrusted to it by the government. It has a role to play in the development of Internet usage, especially at the level of VSBs and SMEs, which are still significantly behind in their presence on the Internet. Through its initiatives, of which réussir-en.fr (www.reussir-en.fr) and Réussir avec le web (www.reussiravecleweb.fr) are salient examples, Afnic strives to contribute to the harmonious development of the FR and the Internet in France.
Afnic is the acronym for Association Française pour le Nommage Internet en Coopération, the French Network Information Centre. The registry has been appointed by the French government to manage domain names under the .fr Top Level Domain. Afnic also manages the .re (Reunion Island), .pm (Saint-Pierre and Miquelon), .tf (French Southern and Antarctic Territories), .wf (Wallis and Futuna) and .yt (Mayotte) French Overseas TLDs.
In addition to managing French TLDs, Afnic’s role is part of a wider public interest mission, which is to contribute on a daily basis, thanks to the efforts of its teams and its members, to a secure and stable internet, open to innovation and in which the French internet community plays a leading role. As part of that mission, Afnic, a non-profit organization, has committed to devoting 11% of its Revenues from managing .fr Top Level Domain to actions of general interest, in particular by transferring €1.3 million each year to the Afnic Foundation for Digital Solidarity.
Afnic is also the back-end registry for the companies as well as local and regional authorities that have chosen to have their own TLD, such as .paris, .bzh, .alsace, .corsica, .mma, .ovh, .leclerc and .sncf.
Established in 1997 and based in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, Afnic currently has nearly 90 employees.