RealTime IT News

Registrar Consortium to Detail Plans For Domain Names

A consortium of about 20 domain-name registrars on Tuesday will make public a proposal to expand on the pools of top-line domain names beyond the currently used ".com" ".net" and ".org" extensions, InternetNews.com has learned.

The consortium, which includes competitors such as Register.com and Network Solutions Inc. (NSI), is making its joint proposal as the clock races toward a midnight deadline set by the Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which is the technical coordinating body for the Internet created in 1998.

Although few details are known of the proposal, the fact that it builds upon the consensus of high-profile domain-name competitors such as NSI and Register.com will likely raise its viability in ICANN's eyes, one expert says. Following tonight's deadline, all applications are subject to a two-week period for comments.

"The real question is how favorably will ICANN look upon a proposal coming from a consortium of registrars," said Ellen Rony, co-author of "The Domain Name Handbook: High Stakes and Strategies in Cyberspace." Rony has prepared a list of formal and informal proposals, which can be found here.

A spokeswoman for the consortium couldn't be reached for comment.

In addition, the consortium's actions strongly suggests that Verisign Inc., NSI's parent company, is choosing to sell the registrar side of the business and keep the its registry operations. The registry business is more of a fee-based back office function. Verisign recently renamed that business to Verisign Global Registry Services.

"I think it's pretty clear that the registry business will be part of Verisign's offerings," said Brian O'Shaughnessy, NSI spokesman.

However, O'Shaughnessy declined to speculate on what the final outcome will bring.

"Those determinations are being studied," he said.

According to guidelines imposed by the Department of Commerce, NSI has until April 2001 to split the registrar/registry businesses.

The consortium isn't alone in making its proposals. Already, several alternatives have been suggested including ".kids" or ".web". The International Federation of Free Trade Unions have proposed ".union" as a new suffix.

Today, Register.com and Virtual Internet plc of Europe proposed the .pro domain to help Internet users more effectively locate qualified professionals on the Internet, as well as open up an exclusive name space for professionals.

Each proposal must be sent into ICANN with a non-refundable check for $50,000.