Roughly 858 people own the 1556 only available shortest possible domain names
1-character domains in a 2-character ccTLD are the shortest possible domains in existence. They contain only 3-characters in total. For example:
Compare the size of these domains to one of the shortest
.com domains, which sold for $17 million in February 2015:
It’s double the size!
3-character (total) domains are extremely rare because new GTLD’s (e.g.
.xyz, etc..) can’t have less than 3-characters, and not all 2-character ccTLD’s offer 1-character SLD registrations. Many do not even allow 2 or 3-character SLD registrations. Even among the ccTLD’s that allow 1-character registrations, many have restrictions on these registrations; for example some can only be registered by individuals living or working in the country of the ccTLD, and others only offer them for premium prices.
Since these domains are so rare (less than 1 in 8.5 million people own one), they are highly coveted and are usually snapped up immediately when they become available (which is increasingly rare). People also pay a high premium for these valuable domains. For example,
o.co sold for $350,000 in July 2010,
8.co sold for $115,000 this past February in an auction, and there are many other public high 5-figure sales.
Those with the most
There are 247 ccTLDs, and only 36 possible single letter domains, which gives a theoretical limit of 8892 possible 1-character ccTLD domain registrations. However the actual number is a lot smaller because of the restrictions put in place by many of the ccTLD registries (mentioned above).
After looking into this and writing a script to gather and process the WHOIS information, I’ve found that there are only about 1556 possible 1-character ccTLD domain registrations. They are, of course, all registered (except in some cases where the registry lists them for sale for a premium price).
Not surprisingly, many of these are registered to the same individuals. For example, Masakazu Nakamura is the undisputed champion and owns the most by far - at least 68 1-character domains - mostly
.cx. He must have been first to
.kg, because he seems to have grabbed them all on 2001-01-26 10:52:16. Also for
.mu, because he grabbed them all on 2002-11-25 08:00:00.
He’s not alone - others swept in and grabbed whole TLDs at different points - “Dan Tan” seems to have got most of the Greenland (
.gl) single-character domains. Avi Ginsberg got most of Botswana (
.bw), and Kevin Macpherson got Ethiopia (
.et), as well as much of Afghanistan (
.af) and Guyana (
On gathering the data
It was difficult to write this script and a lot of manual work was involved for several reasons. First, there is no standard for WHOIS information - much of the information across TLDs is formatted in a different way. For example, here is partial WHOIS info for an
domain: a.is registrant: ABH30-IS admin-c: NBH3-IS tech-c: NBH3-IS zone-c: NBH3-IS billing-c: NBH3-IS nserver: ns1.arionbanki.is nserver: ns2.arionbanki.is dnssec: unsigned delegation created: February 1 2002 expires: February 1 2016 source: ISNIC
And a sample for
domain: o.cz registrant: SB:ORS-CZ admin-c: JO123 nsset: NSS:ORS-CZ:1 registrar: REG-MEDIA4WEB registered: 24.11.1998 01:00:00 changed: 28.01.2006 21:05:00 expire: 20.10.2016
domain: w.tf status: ACTIVE hold: NO holder-c: CCTF320-FRNIC admin-c: CCTF153-FRNIC billing-c: CCTF153-FRNIC tech-c: CCTF153-FRNIC zone-c: NFC1-FRNIC nsl-id: NSL9897-FRNIC registrar: AFNIC registry Expiry Date: 26/10/2016 created: 03/09/1998 last-update: 26/10/2015 source: FRNIC
Dates are in different formats, information is missing and inconsistent, and some TLD’s do not even have any available WHOIS information. A few TLD’s do not even allow online registrations - you must mail a letter to the registrar. For example, check out the
.ao registry website - they require you to print out this word document and mail it in via postal service to register a domain name.
A surprisingly many registries do not even have websites, or the websites are down or show an error page. The Niger (
.ne) registry just has
I emailed the IANA contacts for the
.ne registry about this, but it has been this way since at least March 27, 2012.
When will they drop?
There are actually a lot of 1-character domains that have long ago expired. For example, many
.af (Afghanistan) domains have been in limbo for a while:
7.af expired on 2012-05-24 9.af expired on 2013-05-24 8.af expired on 2013-05-24 6.af expired on 2013-05-24 5.af expired on 2013-05-24 4.af expired on 2013-05-24 3.af expired on 2013-05-24 2.af expired on 2013-05-24 0.af expired on 2013-05-24 f.af expired on 2015-05-24
From what I have heard, this could be from the political unrest in the country, although I also heard this shouldn’t be the case - for example,
.ly (Libya) domains have consistently been up despite much war and political instability.
p.ht is another that expired, on 2013-10-23 08:01:18, and there are other examples. I emailed contacts at the registries about these expired domains and didn’t hear back from them. Sometimes registries just don’t delete expired domains for one reason or another, and they just get stuck like this.
Despite many 2-character domain catches on park.io, we have yet to see a 1-character domain. If it does not renew, the next one would be
7.to which would drop on 2016-03-16.