INTERNET: More Domains to Choose from

The Internet Corp for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the
international body responsible for domain name management, recently selected new
top-level domains (TLDs), to allow individuals and businesses to create new
online addresses. ICANN chose seven new TLDs of .info, .name, .biz, .coop, .pro,
.aero and .museum to be added to the now cliched .com and .net list. The
selection was an effort to reduce the shortage of available domain names.

About 47 companies and organizations had applied to operate
the new Internet domains. The ICANN board approved only seven of the 44 proposed
domain names. The winning applicants will now be required to negotiate
contractual terms for the new domains with ICANN, following which, they can
begin building the domain registries that will house the new Internet addressing
space. Customers should be able to register names in the new domains by mid
2001.

TLDs such as .com, .net and .org have been designated as
unrestricted which means they can be used by anyone. Restricted TLDs like .gov,
.edu, .mil have been created for a specific purpose. Apart from these, there are
country codes like .uk and .in, which identify the nation in which the domain
name is registered. With the proliferation of the Internet, this unrestricted
usage of the TLD suffix resulted in a scarcity of names thereby stripping these
TLDs of the distinctions they possess. Raj Bhalla, GM, Signdomains.com, a
division of Polar Software says, “A study done in early 2000 mentioned that
over 99% words in the Webster’s dictionary are not available for registration
any more, with all three and four character-words already being booked with
.com.”

Afilias bags .info

Afilias, a consortium of 19 Internet domain-name sellers
including Register.com, Tucows, Network Solutions, was awarded .info, which,
like .com will be open to all consumers. JVTeam, a joint venture run by NeuStar
and Australia-based Melbourne IT was awarded .biz, a business-specific domain.
The Global Name Registry, a British group, received .name, which will be a
domain reserved specifically for individual domain name users. RegistryPro was
awarded the domain .pro, which it intends to reserve for accountants, doctors
and lawyers. European air travel organization, SITA was awarded .aero, which
will be dedicated to the air transport industry. The Cooperative League, US
received .coop, restricted to companies that meet the strict international
definition of a ‘cooperative’. The Museum Domain Management Association was
awarded .museum, which will, as the name suggests, be reserved for museums.

Polar Software of India is the only Indian partner of Afilias.
“Afilias registered more than 10 million domain names in 1999-2000
representing about 80 percent of all active domain name registrations transacted
over the last 10 years,” says Bhalla. With work beginning on the
development of the registry operations soon, Polar expects to bag a large part
of development and offshore work for the same.

As Bhalla points out, “With the start of these new TLDs
people and business will have the choice to register the domain name of their
choice reflecting the right nature of their business, which is not possible with
the existing TLDs.”

Boost to e-com

The new domain names will certainly increase e-commerce
competition on the ever-expanding Internet but it will also enlarge territory
for cyber-squatters generating millions of potential new domain names. According
to the Gartner Group, this addition of new TLDs will force the average
organization to register all possible name variants. Companies will have to
develop complete naming strategies before they develop an Internet presence,
which may cost up to $75,000. "Enterprises must register names in multiple
registries for offensive as well as defensive purposes. Organizations with no
plan for adapting their domain naming strategy to these changes would do so at
their own peril." says Audrey Apfel, VP and research director, Gartner.

New
Top-level Domains
TLD Purpose Applicant
.aero Air-transport
industry
Societe
Internationale de Telecommuni- cations Aeronautiques SC, (SITA)
.biz Business JVTeam,
LLC (now known as NeuLevel)
.coop Non-profit
Cooperatives
National
Cooperative Business Association, (NCBA)
.info Unrestricted
use
Afilias,
LLC
.museum Museums Museum
Domain Management Association, (MDMA)
.name For
registration by individuals
Global
Name Registry
.pro Accountants,
Doctors and Lawyers
RegistryPro

Afilias has attempted to take care of cyber squatting and
intellectual property rights. It intends to launch .info initially with a
limited availability to organizations with registered trade marks. mark Also
termed by Signdomains.com as the sunrise period, this is followed by a cooling
period where all disputes related to domain names will be sorted. The
registration of names will be open to the general public only after that.
"This move has been highly appreciated by ICANN since one of their biggest
concerns is to ensure the stability and integrity of the Internet and ensuring
that the new TLDs do not become another weapon in the hands of cyber
squatters," said Bhalla. Jasjit Sawhney, CEO, Net4India added, "The
new TLDs could lead to a bit of cyber squatting but the procedure of getting a
domain name back is also getting simpler & more efficient, which wasn’t
the case earlier."

The creation of new TLDs can prove to be highly effective
measures to solve the shortage of domain names. However, the critical issue
remains–how to balance the merits and demerits of this measures and
effectively work on the shortage of domain names considering the popularity of
the Internet and social circumstances. DQ

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