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RealTime IT News

Network Solutions Cleared on Both Sides of Atlantic

Network Solutions said regulators from the EU and the U.S. have closed their antitrust investigations into the dominant registrar of Internet addresses, without further action or inquiry.

The separate decisions by the EU and the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) were made about a week apart. Brian O'Shaughnessy, a spokesperson at Network Solutions, said: "We felt all along we would be vindicated. We were confident about our position."

He said the company had been cooperating with both European and U.S. officials.

The probe by the DoJ focused on determining whether the company was violating antitrust laws by monopolising the master list of names and Web addresses in generic top-level domains. Rivals also complained that Network Solutions had moved too slowly to add new addresses.

The European Commission (EC) examination, under way since August 1998, focused on whether Network Solutions was locking in current licensees that prevented them from going to new rivals. The Commission also investigated complaints about two Network Solutions contracts with Internet companies known as 'test-bed registrars' in Scandinavia.

The company lost its U.S. government-endorsed monopoly over the domain name business in June 1999, and now more than 100 other companies are certified to assign domain names too.

O'Shaughnessy pointed out that although "this has been an astronomical year for Network Solutions, it is difficult to say what the effect was on our business."

But the separate decisions came as a sigh of relief, he added. "Any time a business, especially an Internet business, has that anxiety lifted from its shoulders, it's a relief," he said.