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VeriSign and TrustAsia Get Unwired with WebNum

Catering to the burgeoning number of wireless subscribers in Southeast Asia, which at last count came in at 55 million according to the Strategis Group , VeriSign and affiliate TrustAsia have taken steps to simplify the process of searching for Web sites from handheld devices with WebNum, a service intended to provide wireless users with an easier and quicker way to browse the Internet without all those pesky URLs.

As counterpart to VeriSign's digital trust services, TrustAsia offers Southeast Asia countries Internet infrastructure services and online payment solutions that support e-commerce and mobile commerce. TrustAsia does not currently provide domain name services to this territory.

WebNum will be integrated into TrustAsia's product line and will be offered to content providers and wireless users interested in registering WebNum numeric shortcut logos for their own purposes or more general use among other wireless subscribers.

Built on VeriSign's domain name architecture, the premise of WebNum is to function as a gimmick for reducing alphanumeric Web addresses to more memorable number sequences associated with the original URL.

Rather than typing in an entire Web address, users can simply push from one to seven digits and shortcut their way to a chosen Internet destination. Instead of punching in www.mtv.com, a user can keystroke 6-8-8 and arrive at their chosen online destination with less effort. WebNum shortcuts will be listed on Cellmania's mFinder mobile directory and search engine, which currently lists 25,000 WebNum shortcuts.

The options for WebNum configurations include Local Logo Numbers (LLNs) for localized wireless domain names in specific countries, and Global Logo Numbers (GLNs) that function as shortcuts for worldwide wireless devices or carriers.

WebNum will be marketed by TrustAsia throughout Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, Cambodia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, and the Phillipines, where wireless use is considered heaviest and consumers are more apt to embrace the opportunity to make the process of surfing the Net from a handheld more efficient.

VeriSign officials could not name a specific rollout date for WebNum in the United States, but said it is already being used by subscribers who currently use data-enabled wireless devices. Although access to WebNum depends on the carrier.

According to VeriSign representative Janine Dunne, WebNum was used for online voting purposes during Super Bowl Sunday in a partnership between Fox Sports and Motorola.

VeriSign is headquarted in Mountain View, Calif. The company operates a database of 28.8 million Web addresses. As a result of its March 2000 acquisition of Network Solutions, VeriSign is considered one of the most powerful domain name registry currently available.