Despite it becoming cheaper to register a Web site domain name (like www.company.com), the battle over what names are allowed and who can sell them is hotting up.
A coalition of Internet groups, which works on matters relating to domain names, is working to create new top-level domain names (TLDs). But some people aren't happy with the procedures being used and have set up rival names. These companies claim to compete at the top level of the domain space with, for instance, (com), (org) and (net) names.
Ever since Network Solutions Incorporated (NSI) has been charging $50 for every domain name registered with them, people have been petitioning the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) to allow new TLDs. Because of legal and logistic problems, IANA was unwilling to take immediate action.
To help resolve the issue, the Internet Society announced in November an Internet International Ad Hoc Committee (IAHC) to look into the problems associated with the assignment of new TLDs and to provide recommendations. Members of the IAHC were named in December. On 28 February the IAHC drafted a memorandum of understanding to be signed by companies wishing to operate new TLDs.
Opponents to the IAHC claim the recommendations are too restrictive and anticompetitive, and that the IAHC has exceeded its authority. Some opponents have gathered under two flags - Alternic and eDNS, which aim to replace the IANA function by creating an extended root domain. One of the companies claims to have taken legal action against the members of the IAHC.
Most of the complaints against the IAHC report are about the requirements for registries to share the names. Unlike NSI, having individual control over (com), (org) and (net), the new names would be pooled together and participating companies could sell registrations to any name in the pool.
On 4 March, the eDNS participants met in Atlanta and agreed to an operating charter. They plan to have a working infrastructure by 1 April. However, the Alternic and eDNS factions both suffer from requiring Internet Service Providers and their customers to make changes to their configuration in order to use the names these organisations will provide.
Current estimates show that Alternic and eDNS names are only useable by about 0.3 per cent of the Internet. Although the IAHC doesn't yet have any new names online, these names will be useable by the whole Internet since they will be placed in the IANA co-ordinated root servers.
Due to the nature of the Internet, there can only be one global root server network. Until Alternic and eDNs are able to claim a significant portion of the market, it is a brave company that will spend money on buying a domain name with these factions.
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