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Blake K
Blake K

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DNS Explained. The RRR Model

This is an article in the DNS Explained. series. Click here to read the introduction post.

DNS isn't all technical. At its core, there is a lot of policy and thus jargon created. The intent of this post is to clear up some of the most commonly used jargon relating to entities in DNS.

Diagram of the RRR model.

There are three main stakeholders in the DNS ecosystem. Together, they form the RRR (triple-R) Model.

Registrants are the individuals and organizations that register a domain name.

They obtain a domain name from a registrar by paying the price that that particular registrar sets. If a potential registrant thinks that a registrar's price is too high, they can look at another registrar (competition!).

If Alice registers the domain name “”, then Alice is considered as the registrant for the domain name “”.

Registrars are third-party organizations that "sell" domain names to registrants.

Domain names are not really sold but rather rented on an annual basis. The maximum length of a registrant’s active registration depends on the policy of the specific TLD, but usually is 10 years.

Registrars are also the bridge between registrants and registries, because they have to interface with the specific TLD's registry to submit the domain creation.

Before registrars were established, a TLD’s registry would act as the registrar. This didn’t permit much competition, so the concept of a registrar was adopted.

Some notable registrars include:

  • GoDaddy
  • NameCheap
  • 101domain
  • Network Solutions

Registries operate the backend infrastructure for a top-level domain and process domain creations, renewals, expirations, deletions, and transfers.

Their customers are registrars, who then sell to registrants. Since registries need to make money too, there is a wholesale cost for new domain creations, among other fees that are charged to registrars.

There is a single registry for each TLD. The organization ICANN designates via contract the sole registry for each TLD.

Some notable TLDs and their corresponding registries are:

TLD Registry
.com Verisign
.net Verisign
.org Public Interest Registry
.gov General Services Administration
.coffee Donuts
.tv Verisign
.site Radix
.me DoMEn d.o.o


Registrants, registrars, and registries make up the RRR model within DNS. Registrants are end-customers leasing a domain name. The organizations that offer the means to obtain a domain name are registrars. Registrars have to communicate with the backend systems of each TLD they want to offer, which are managed by the TLD's registry.

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