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May 01, 1997
Global Telecom Body OKs New Domain Names
(05/01/97; 5:00 p.m. EDT)
By Malcolm Maclachlan, TechWire
GENEVA -- It's not just a ".com" world anymore.
At the close of an International conference here Thursday, dozens of
organizations signed a memorandum of understanding that adds seven
new top-level generic Internet domains.
The new domains -- .arts, .firm, .info, .nom, .rec, .store and .web -- join
the five current, top Internet domains: .com, .org, .net, .gov and .edu. The
last two names, .gov and .edu., are available only to government and
The announcement of the new domains came on the last day of the
International Telecommunications Union conference here. The ITU, based
here, is the telecommunications agency of the United Nations.
Under the plan, 28 new registrars -- four in each of the world's seven
regions -- are given the right to distribute top-level addresses. Potential
registrars now have 100 days to apply for one of these spots.
Network Solutions Inc. (NSI) has the exclusive right to distribute
top-level domain addresses through a contract with the National Science
Foundation. The NSF announced last week that it would not renew the
contract, which expires in 1998.
The campaign for the new system was led by the Internet Society, a
nonprofit group dedicated to "maintaining the viability and global scaling of
"Internet top-level domain names are a public resource," said Internet
Society President Don Heath at conference closing ceremonies. "They are
now recognized as a public trust. This marks just the beginning of a long
process in which governments will be more involved and will work with
the Internet community."
The plan was also endorsed by Vinton Cerf, vice president of Internet
architecture at MCI. Cerf is the researcher generally credited as being
"the father of the Web."
The memorandum was signed by 57 organizations, while another 23 have
stated their intention to sign. These include groups from 24 countries on
four continents. Almost all the signers are companies, such as MCI and
Digital Equipment, as well as non-profit advocacy groups, rather than
"The intent was really to get the players in the industry to sign up," said
Internet Society Executive Director Martin Burack, speaking from the
group's Reston, Va., offices. "The governments need to be involved, but
we want it to be industry self-regulation."
No More Monopoly
In the meantime, Network Solutions appears to have finally lost out on the
lucrative monopoly it had controlled since 1993. It has made more than
$40 million registering addresses, and stood to make far more given the
continued Internet explosion.
The company said it plans to maintain control over the right to distribute
.com addresses. It is unclear whether the company has the right to do this,
according to the NSF.
The plan is also facing a legal challenge. Image Online Design, a web
design firm, filed suit in California court today. The company is seeking an
injunction against the plan on the grounds that groups involved have no
legal standing to carry out their plans.
Rob M. VanHooren +1 519 679-1155 x34
Network Engineering Services 171 Queens Avenue, Suite 320
Linkdata Communications Inc. London, CANADA
Good things come to those who wait. Patience is a virtue. Yadda Yadda Yadda