Domain Name Registrar Group Repeats Growth

Network Solutions Inc. and the U.S. Department of Commerce agreed to extend the test phase of their shared domain name registration project until September 10th. They will also allow more registrars to begin registering domain names, once they are accredited by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.

In the early stage of testing, five accredited registrars have been allowed to sign up domain names for companies, organizations and individuals using .com, .net and .org suffixes. Those companies are America Online, the Internet Council of Registrars, France Telecom, Melbourne IT and Register.com. Adding new registrars to the group will test the “scalability” of the shared system NSI developed under contract with the U.S. government.

The move will also increase competition and provide further information on how that competition affects the domain name registration system. The group is working toward the ultimate goal of completely privatizing the domain name registration business.

“Today’s agreement to extend the test bed until September 10th will help to ensure that the functions of the System have been adequately tested in a multi-registrar environment. We also expect that the expansion of the test bed phase will provide for greater consumer choice, better services and lower prices.” Commerce Department General Counsel Andrew Pincus said. The extension is the third since the program started April 26th.

Making the Grade

More than 50 companies from around the world have been qualified by ICANN to register domain names after the test period is complete. ICANN is a California-based, non-profit corporation led by members of Internet companies around the world. The group has been charged with transferring to the private sector the Internet domain name system functions now performed by the U.S. government.

NSI also agreed to remove restrictions on the use of its “WHOIS” database by third-party software developers. The database provides technical information about the registered domain name and referral information for the registrar of the domain name. Contact names for the domain name are maintained in separate WHOIS databases by each individual registrar. The data has been accessible from NSI’s web site since July, but this further move is expected to increase the availability of domain-related products and services.

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