Magazine article Searcher

Authority for Domain Names Still Up for Grabs

Magazine article Searcher

Authority for Domain Names Still Up for Grabs

Article excerpt

An odd landmark event occurs in Internet history this year. On September 30, Network Solutions Inc. (NSI) ends its long-standing contract with the National Science Foundation to handle the registration of second-level domain names -- the names just before the dot-com, dot-net, dot-org, and dot-ecu. Actually, the full control NSI has exercised ceases this month, but the NSF contract has established a "ramp-down" period that extends from April through September.

Last year the International Ad Hoc Committee (IAHC) proposed an unlimited number of national and regional domain-name registries and several new generic top-level domain names [".firm,""shop (substituted for the initial ".store," ".web," ".info," ".nom,", ".arts," and ".rec"]. Debate swirled as to how the entry of these new categories would eliminate confusion or whether it would just leave more registrars pocketing more money from concerns protecting their names and trademarks under multiple categories, leaving Net users even more confused than the current system.

The IAHC has gone out of operation, but the Interim Policy Oversight Committee (IPOC) and the new Council of Registrars (CORE) has taken its place to implement the plan. In its first opening to candidates for new registries, IPOC approved 88 registrars, with each application they received accompanied by a $10,000 application fee. Applicants included giants like Deutsche Telekom as well as a small California sunscreen manufacturer ("Serving All Surfers?"). IPOC has contracted with Emergent Corporation to build the database linking the domain names granted by all the registries that may arise.

Many other proposals and alternative registration schemes have sprung up in recent years, all clamoring for their own system, e.g., the enhanced Domain Name System. At the same time, some small countries, such as the South Pacific nations of Niue (.nu) and Tonga (.to), have begun promoting a proliferation of domain names long since snapped up from the NSI registration lists. Countries granting new "marquee" names have taken advantage of country-code top-level domains (ccTLDs), independent of the generic, top-level domains (gTLDs like ".com" and ".org"). Reports circulate that at least 64 of the new registries will take applications from anyone, not just applicants within their own country.

Getting a "top of the line" domain name from Network Solutions can cost a lot. Mecklermedia reportedly paid $100,000 to acquire the domain name "" to support its Internet World conferences. (In fact, after the expensive purchase and reduced annual revenue reports, Mecklermedia discontinued separate publication of its glossy Internet World publication, merging it into a re-titled Web Week. First things first.)

[For earlier Searcher coverage of the issues, read "Tools of the Trade: New Internet Domain Name Tags on the Way," vol. 5, no. 4, April 1997, pp. 203; "Database Industry Scene: Internet Domain Name Control Up for Grabs; NSF Won't Renew Network Solutions Contract," vol. 5, no. 6, June 1997, pp. 40-2.]

Lots of money is involved in the debate over domain name registration. NSI charges $50 a year for maintaining domain names. That doesn't sound like much, but when you consider there are over 1 million registered domain names with 3,000 more added daily, just do the math. Consider also that just five years ago, there were only 7,000 domain names and that NSI registered almost twice the domain names in 1996 as in 1995. NSI has announced several new services for its "post-monopoly" future. In partnership with Dun & Bradstreet and Online Inc., they will offer the WorldNIC Services, a suite of enhanced domain-name registration services that should simplify the process for less technologically sophisticated businesses and individuals. The link to Dun & Bradstreet's Web sites will allow companies to simultaneously register with D&B. Ultimately, Network Solutions may profit from all the controversy. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.