The Internet's most lucrative monopoly ends on 30 September when Network Solutions (NSI) loses its position as exclusive registrar of the most used domain names - .com, .net and .org.
The company claims it is ready for the free market. In the past six months it has generated $36 million in revenue on the back of its monopoly - nearly double its 1997 sales - and has used part of the money to establish a global presence.
It hopes this will enable it to remain the most popular registrar of the big three top level domains (TLDs), and to entice businesses to forego local suffixes such as .uk, .fr, .nl and so on, in favour of the generic ones.
NSI wants companies to choose - and pay for - names that end in .com, .net and .org. It reckons there are still 80 billion .com combinations available.
Without its monopoly, it now needs to convince customers to turn to it for efficiency and added value services.
Last week the company added the latest piece to its worldwide puzzle by establishing a domain name server in London to speed up the availability of .com, .net and .org Web address lookups in Europe.
"The addition of the new name server in London is a technical and operational recognition of the tremendous growth of .com, .net and .org usage in Europe," said David Holtzman, Network Solutions' senior vice president of engineering. The new name server will be located at Frontier Global Center's facility in London.
Outside of north America, Europe has been the leading region in the world for registrations, representing 46 per cent of the total outside the US.
Anticipating the end of its monopoly, chief executive Gabriel Battista said: "We have geared up significantly over the last few years with investments, financial resources, and the development of other products and services."
Over and above providing a company with an online identity through a domain name, NSI is creating other products "wrapped around the domain name", such as personalised email and electronic commerce software.
Its newest offering, Dot Com Mail, is an email hosting service that gives small business customers full Internet mail accounts with email addresses that have their company's domain name.
According to the company, more than 50 Internet service providers in Europe, Asia, Australia and south America have signed up for this service.
He also said the company would use partnerships, joint ventures, resellers and acquisitions to extend its reach.
"I see the international segment continuing to grow in importance. At some point in the future, there will be more .com customers outside the US than inside," he said.
To reinforce this strategy, NSI established its first international operations in London earlier this year and has appointed a director to address markets in Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
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