ICANN Names Domain Registrars

The Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers Wednesday named the five companies that will participate in the initial test phase of the new competitive shared registry system for .com, .net and .org domains.

That system permits multiple registrars to provide registration services for all the top-level domain names that NSI currently handles.

ICANN named America Online Inc., The Internet Council of Registrars, France Telecom/Oleane, Melbourne IT, an Australian e-commerce company and register.com to participate in the trial.

A total of 31 companies applied for the program. Those that were not selected for the test will be accredited if they meet guidelines once the post-test phase ends which is currently set for June 26. Once the test ends, there will be no limit to the number of companies that can register domains. Network Solutions will continue to serve as a registrar until the test phase is complete. At that time, NSI will be required to meet the same guidelines as all other competitors.

Once the first phase is complete, the shared registry system will be opened to all accredited registrars that meet ICANN’s accreditation standards. Any of those companies will then be allowed to compete for registering .com, .net and .org domains.

During the test, the five registrars named Wednesday will be given direct access to the domain registry operated by NSI. The testbed is designed to solve all technical glitches before additional registrars are added. The testbed companies will be able to actually register domains for their customers.

The companies named had to comply with accreditation guidelines that were adopted March 4. Testbed registrars were required to pay a $2,500 application fee to ICANN. During the test, registrars will also have to pay a $9 fee. That fee may change once NSI and the Commerce Department finalize contact guidelines.

Once accredited, all registrars will pay a $5,000 annual accreditation fee and a one-time fee of $10,000 to license software NSI has developed to register domains.

Registration services are currently handled exclusively by Network Solutions Inc. which has operated the system under an exclusive government contract since 1993.

Besides the five testbed participants, ICANN also said 29 other companies have met its accreditation criteria and are expected to be named registrars once the testing is complete. The approved companies are: 9NetAvenue, A Technology Co., Active ISP, Alldomains.com, All West Communications, American Domain Registry, AT&T Domain Direct, DomainRegistry.com, eNom Inc., InfoAvenue, InfoNetworks, InfoRamp, Interactive Telecom Network, Interdomain, Internet Domain Registrars, interQ Inc., MS Intergate, NameSecure.com, Name.Space Inc., NetBenefit, NetNames, Nominalia, Port Information System AB, RCN, Telepartner AS, Verio, Virtual Internet and Web Trends.

Esther Dyson, ICANN’s interim chairman, said the announcement is a major milestone resulting from the efforts of the private and public sectors to bring Internet users the benefit of competition.

“The five testbed participants bring a wealth of technical capability, business expertise and geographic reach to the testbed program and each has demonstrated a strong commitment to make this effort succeed on behalf of the global Internet community,” she said.

Mike Roberts, ICANN’s interim president and chief executive officer, said the long list of companies meeting accreditation criteria shows a tremendous level of commercial interest in opening the domain name market.

“These companies are ready, willing and able to compete. ICANN is committed to working with the United States government, the testbed participants and all the post-testbed registrars to launch this program successfully,” he said.

“We had a difficult time selecting these five companies. Our criteria was based on companies who worked hard to prepare outstanding sets of applications to us. They understand the technical, financial and managerial resources needed to make this work.”

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