Businesses and public bodies were able to sign up for the new European Union Internet address starting Wednesday morning, and they did so with haste.
They filed 40,503 applications within the first 15 minutes of availability — hitting a top speed of 60 requests per second — according to the European Registry of Internet Domain Names, or EURid, the nonprofit organization in charge of handling requests.
That number had nearly doubled by the end of the first hour, when 80,000 applications had been received. By the end of the day, "sex.eu" was the most requested name, with 213 applicants bidding for it, followed by "hotel.eu" and "travel.eu." Other popular site names included jobs, casino, poker, golf, music and porn, followed by the new ".eu" domain.
The Web site names were handed out on a first-come, first-served basis, with German enterprises filing the most requests, EURid said. France and the Netherlands rounded off the top three countries most eager to sign up for the new domain.
Until now, Europeans had to choose between a national domain such as ".fr" for France or a global one like ".com," often seen as American.
Richard More O'Ferrall, spokesman for the EU small business lobby UEAPME, said the ".eu" name could be useful for European companies.
"It broadens your appeal and the appeal of your product across Europe," he said. "You have something that identifies you with the EU."
Though many are not yet up and running, new domain names can be used immediately — but not everyone is allowed to register names during this sunrise period.
Only registered trademark owners, government agencies and companies may sign up during the registration round that began Wednesday. On Feb. 2, ".eu" opens up to family names.
General registration begins April 7, but only to people who live in the European Union and to companies with headquarters or branches inside the 25-nation bloc.