BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: Sci/Tech
Front Page 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Tuesday, 19 June, 2001, 15:22 GMT 16:22 UK
Novel net domains court controversy domain name list
A few of the domains that offers for sale
By BBC News Online technology correspondent Mark Ward

Rivals to the net's official system for naming websites are pressing for change to the old way of deciding who gets which name.

This week independent registrar opened offices in Europe, and announced new alliances to start selling and directing surfers to sites unrecognised by the net's ruling body. warns that the net's coordinators will soon have to change the way domains are given out as growing numbers of people turn to domains that sit outside the core domain system.

Icann's position is that it runs the root directories and that everyone else is evil

Steve Chadima,
But one customer warns people to be wary of buying domains that many on the web still have no way of reaching or searching for without making changes to their computer.

In November last year the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann), the net's co-ordinating body, began signing up companies to run new top level domains to complement the existing generic suffixes such as .com, .net and .org.

Out of 200 suggestions Icann eventually settled on seven. Two of these, .biz and .info, are due to go live this year.

But Icann's plans to slowly expand the range of domains are being upset by companies such as which has started selling 30 domain suffixes such as .shop, .mp3, and .family. charges $25 (17) per year for each domain.

Domain dilemma

Before you visit a website your computer first asks one of 13 domain directories dotted around the web for the net address of the machine hosting that site.

Because it is outside Icann and its domains are not on the directories, has had to take a different approach. Instead has signed up net service providers to redirect requests for the unofficial domains to machines run by

Those who get web access via a net service provider who has not signed up with can only see the novel domains by downloading and installing an add-on for their browser.

Steve Chadima, chief marketing officer for, said almost 45 million people out of a total web population of almost 410 million can get access to the unofficial domains.

Critical consumers is also providing a home for some of those names that Icann rejected when it was canvassing proposals for new domains in November 2000. The .kids domain can now be reached via the service.

Icann's new names
.biz - businesses
.name - individuals
.museum - museums
.pro - professionals
.aero - aviation
.coop - cooperatives
.info - general information

This week opened its European office and announced a deal with Energis Squared, which provides backbone and hosting services for about 60 net service providers.

Mr Chadima said it is working towards gathering a critical mass of net service companies and potential audiences that will mean that Icann has to recognise its claims to the novel domains.

"Icann's position is that it runs the root directories, that everyone else is evil, and anything other than that is chaos," he said, "but we think there is room between those views".

Icann should stop setting up new domains and let the market sort out who runs which one, said Mr Chadima.

But consultant Randall Darcy who has bought some domains to expand the web presence of his small business, called Future Information Projects, said people should be aware that the novel domains cannot be found easily via web search engines.

Potential customers will more than likely have to download the software to reach the websites, limiting their appeal further, he said.

Mr Darcy said was akin to setting up a phone network that only let people on that network ring each other rather than anyone in the world.

He said the service added nothing but "confusion" to the system currently managed by Icann.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
See also:

25 May 01 | Sci/Tech
Prepare to do .bizness
19 May 01 | Sci/Tech
Net names deal reached
14 May 01 | Sci/Tech
Taking a domain in vain
05 Apr 01 | Americas
Sex site squatter fined $65m
19 Sep 00 | Sci/Tech
Money for nothing
02 Aug 00 | Africa
Malawi internet name row
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Sci/Tech stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Sci/Tech stories