Any Thoughts on Dot-US?

The US Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration has put out another request for comments (RFC) on how best to manage and administer the .US domain space.

The new RFC follows a previous NTIA effort two years ago to kindle interest in the US ccTLD. But that initiative became derailed by controversy when the US Postal Service stepped forward with a proposal to take over administration of .US domain registrations.

At present, an estimated 10,000 sites use the .US country code, most of them
local governments in the US. But the NTIA wants to see that number greatly
expanded, and is willing to change some rules to make it happen, according
to Becky Burr, associate administrator with NTIA.

“We think it could be a very attractive domain to a lot of folks. It’s our
sense that there’s something special about .US. It’s not popular in its
current configuration, so we’re looking for something that could allow that
space to be expanded,” said Burr.

Poor marketing and the ponderous hierarchical organization of .US domains
have held them back, according to Burr, even at a time when companies and
individuals are snapping up .CC, .WS, .TV and other ccTLDs.

Administration of the .US domain is
currently handled by the Information Sciences
of the University of Southern California, while nearly 8,000
individuals and companies act as administrators for
delegated subdomains based on localities.

Many of them, such as Harbour Light
, a Web design and hosting firm in Portsmouth, New Hampshire,
at present receive no payment for handling .US registrations. And according
to Josh Cyr, new business developer for Harbour, the sometimes thankless
task can be bewildering to everyone involved.

“It’s a confusing process as to who you go to and what the requirements are,
even for us. We do it only because we inherited it from an ISP we acquired,”
said Cyr.

Domain industry watchers hope that turning over the administration of the US
ccTLD to a private entity with marketing savvy will goose the popularity of
.US. Flattening its hierarchy might also drive adoption, so that businesses
or individuals could register, for example,, versus the
multi-level names required today, companyname.locality.state.US.

With prime .com space vanishing, the dowdy .US domain space may become more
attractive to registrants and potential registrars alike. But at least one
big player has backed away from contention: the US Postal Service has
reportedly decided not to pursue a role as administrator.

The NTIA’s deadline for submitting comments on the draft statement of work
is October 6, 2000.

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