Structure and History

Neustar has successfully managed the usTLD space since 2001. During the past contract term, Neustar has improved and grown the space in a responsible manner and continuously developed and enhanced usTLD policies and services to address emerging challenges. The usTLD is poised for further growth and innovation in the public interest, and Neustar will continue to provide exceptional services to the DOC, Registrars, Delegated Managers and the American Internet Community.

At the beginning of the current contract term in 2007, there were approximately 1.29 million domain names under management in the usTLD. As of November, 2013, the domain names under management for the usTLD had grown by 44% to approximately 1.86 million. The annual renewal rate of approximately 65% has stayed relatively steady throughout the current contract term.

As new users are using new devices from disparate locations around the world to access the Internet, this has resulted in an increased load and demand for critical assets. As such an asset, the usTLD has realized these increased demands on its infrastructure. Average monthly DNS queries for the usTLD have nearly doubled, from 9.6 billion per month in 2007 to more than 17.6 billion per month in 2013.

Figure 1. Then and Now: Transforming the usTLD. Under Neustar’s stewardship, the usTLD has undergone dramatic transformation, evolving from the origins of RFC1480 to become one of the most policy-rich TLDs.

The usTLD is now composed of two distinct domain name spaces; the Legacy Hierarchical Locality Space and the Expanded Second level-Space.

The State of the usTLD Second-Level Domain Name Space


Neustar launched the expanded Second-Level domain names space in April 2002 and has since increased usTLD second-level registrations from zero to over 1.86 million names. A recent study performed by Pegasus Consultants, Inc., an independent consulting firm familiar with the domain name industry, estimated that as of December 2012, over 77.1% of all usTLD domain names are in use. These findings support that the usTLD domain is thriving, and is being used in highly productive ways by its registrants.

Figure 2. breaks down the 77.1% of the registered domain names being used and classifies them by category (e.g., Business & e-Commerce, Travel, Entertainment, etc.).

Figure 3.: .US Usage by Category

In all, the top 5 uses account for over 74 percent of the .US TLD (Figure 2.1-3).

Figure 4: Top 5 Uses of the .US top-level domain

In addition, according to Pegasus, approximately 20 percent of usTLD registrations are associated with traditional offline activities that Americans are increasingly conducting online.

The State of the usTLD Locality Space

When Neustar first assumed responsibility for the management and administration of the usTLD in October 2001, we inherited the deeply-hierarchical legacy locality-based usTLD structure, for which no authoritative records of delegations and sub-delegations existed. Based on the best information available in 2001, the Commerce Department estimated that the usTLD contained approximately 8,000 locality names assigned to 800 Delegated Managers.

Figure 6: The usTLD Legacy: Deep Hierarchy. The usTLD hierarchy provides structure, name uniqueness, and geographic reference points.

As of October 31, 2013, there were approximately 4,044 Delegated Managers and Locality-based registrants, accounting for 12,979 total domain names in the locality space divided in the following manner

Category of usTLD Locality-based Names Number of usTLD Locality-based Names
Names managed by Delegated Managers 3,653
Names managed by Neustar as the Delegated Manager 9,326
Total usTLD Locality-based Names 12,979

Table 7: Division of Total Domain Names in the Locality Space

As of October 31, 2013, Neustar has identified approximately 1,300 Delegated Managers that account for the 3,653 locality-based domain names. Of those approximately 1,300 Delegated Managers, Neustar has secured executed Delegated Manager Agreements from 1,292 of them. Neustar is still in the process of completing negotiations with the remaining Delegated Managers to secure agreements with them.

In addition, Neustar currently serves as the de facto Delegated Manager for 9,326 usTLD Locality-based Names. These are names for which either there was no identified Delegated Manager, or alternatively are names which we manage on behalf of Delegated Managers whose delegations we were required to take back for failing to agree to the terms and conditions of the Delegated Manager agreement. Neustar requires each locality-based registrant for which we serve as the Delegated Manager to execute the Locality Registrant Agreement. Neustar has executed 2,654 Locality Agreements, accounting for the 9,326 usTLD Locality-based domain names.

Serving as the usTLD Administrator for the Locality-based space is one of the more complex aspects of administering the usTLD and requires a deep knowledge not only of the technical issues, but experience in negotiating complex agreements with the Locality-based community. It requires close coordination with the COR to parse through a number of thorny legal issues in dealing with state and local governments and consumes a significant amount of legal and customer support resources. Neustar developed a documented management framework for the usTLD, policies and procedures specifically for the locality-based usTLD structure and contracts obligating Delegated Managers to abide by abide by usTLD policies and minimum technical and service requirements.

Neustar provides SRS, DNS, WHOIS and customer support services at no charge to registrants in the locality based space, whether or not we serve as the Delegated Manager.

The State of usTLD Policies and Procedures

Neustar developed usTLD policies and processes have ensured the integrity of the usTLD, and provided a model for management of country-code and future new geographic city-based generic top level domains around the world.

Effective enforcement of the usTLD’s unique policy-rich environment contributes significantly to the high quality of the registrations found in the space today. The principle policies governing the usTLD space today include:

  • The usTLD Nexus requirements ensure that registrants are subject to U.S. law and the jurisdiction of U.S. courts
  • A requirement for accurate, reliable and up-to-date WHOIS data backed up by tools and procedures to pro-actively identify and address inaccurate and/or incomplete data
  • True registrant accountability is ensured by a prohibition on proxy, anonymous or privacy registrations
  • Locality Delegated Managers must now agree to and abide by the enforceable terms of the Delegated Manager Agreement, and Locality Registrants must meet agree to and abide by the terms of the Locality Registrant Agreement
  • Prohibitions on use of usTLD registrations for malicious, abusive, and/or illegal activity are backed up by sophisticated technology tools to identify and respond to cybersecurity threats
  • Prior to the suspension of all registrations were required to meet all the guidelines concerning usage and content