Register.com goes live with domain registration

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.

In a statement issued today, Register.com said it can now allow its customers to "actually manage their domain name on the register.com site. The domain manager application allows customers to change contact information, change billing information, update their domain name server, modify an IP address and more."

This story, "Register.com goes live with domain registration" was originally published by Computerworld.

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