Independent domain registries allocate domain names in a subset of the Domain Name System under a top-level or lower-level domain which is properly registered with an ICANN-accredited registrar. These registries offer lower-level domains within their name space to the public. Most of the independent domain registries operate based on an ISO 3166-1 name that is a subdomain of a higher-level domain.
These registries combine the domain registry and the domain registrar functions in the administration structure, but may split them into two legal entities. The registry may be an entity that holds the data and the ownership of the top level domain, while another entity provides operational functions. This protects the continuity of operation in case of registrar business failure.
Independent registries operate at a technical level identical to official domain registries using the well-know principles of operation of the Domain Name System. In addition, the registries may also operate a WHOIS service to publish domain name information.
The idea for an independent global domain name registry stems from a series of conversations between one of CentralNic's original founders and the late Jon Postel, one of the founding fathers of the modern Internet. Postel suggested the use of .UK.COM to compete with .CO.UK, at a time when the proposed price of the latter was about $300.
After the use of UK.COM other ISO Country codes ending in .COM were also established such as AU.COM (Australia) and HK.COM (Hong Kong) and many other countries.