Register.com goes live with domain registration

By Dorte Toft, Computerworld |  Government

Web service company Register.com today ended Network Solution Inc.'s (NSI)
monopoly over domain name registration for the .com, .net and .org domains.

And at least one more of the five so-called test-bed registrars will be ready to go
live this week, according to Michael Roberts, interim president of The Internet
Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) in Portola Valley, Calif.

When the trial period expires June 24, at least 42 new competitors, all authorized
by ICANN, will be ready to join the race, Roberts said.

The move to competition is a result of efforts on the part of the U.S. Department of
Commerce. NSI, in Herndon, Va., for the past six years has been the sole domain name
registration provider under a contract with the U.S. government. However, the
government wants to get out of the business of controlling Internet registrations.

Early during that period, anyone who wanted a Web site in the .com, .net and .org
domains had to go directly to NSI to register. Later, companies such as Register.com,
owned by Forman Interactive Corp. in New York, entered the scene as registration
intermediaries, passing the requests and some of the fees on to NSI.

ICANN, a nonprofit organization financed by various companies in the information
technology field, was established last year to oversee the introduction of a new
competitive system for registering domain names. On April 24, ICANN authorized
Register.com as a test-bed registrar along with America Online Inc., The Internet
Council of Registrars, France Telecom SA's Oleane subsidiary and Melbourne Information
Technologies Australia Pty Ltd.

However, a company looking for a good deal when registering a domain name will have
to wait a little longer. NSI charges $70 to register a name, which is valid for two
years, and according to Roberts, Register.com is starting out by charging the same
price.

"It is very obvious that the price surpasses the cost considerably," said Roberts,
adding that the value of NSI stock is clear evidence of that. Roberts said he expects
the price to fall when competition really takes off.

However, NSI still has an advantage. All registrars have to pay NSI $9 for every new
domain name registration. And according to Roberts, NSI is trying to get the trial
period extended past June 24, arguing that there should be a 60-day test.

So far, though, the Commerce Department hasn't published any change in the
timetable.

Some test-bed registrars previously complained about NSI being slow at delivering
the necessary software to get the test up and running.

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