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Tuesday, August 11, 1998 Published at 15:01 GMT 16:01 UK


Sci/Tech

Tiny Tuvalu is .tv centre

Tiny isles' trendy tags

By Internet Correspondent Chris Nuttall

The Polynesian microstate of Tuvalu with only 9,000 people believes it has struck gold with a deal to exploit its name on the Internet.

Prime Minister Bikenibeu Paeinu said that a deal agreed with a Canadian company, Information.ca Corp, would bring in annual revenues of between $60m and $100m.

The deal could make Tuvalu's people among the world's wealthiest on a per capita basis.


[ image: Tuvalu welcomes Net users]
Tuvalu welcomes Net users
It works out at more than $10,000 per citizen, 20 times Tuvalu's existing annual budget.

The marketing company will push Tuvalu's unique country suffix of .tv as the perfect Internet address for the world's television companies.

Tuvalu's current annual budget is less than $4m and its people, spread across nine tiny atolls, rely mainly on fishing.

Sex sullies Net paradises

Its only other high-tech encounter, the licensing of its international telephone access code to a foreign buyer, brings in a million dollars a year.

But the government is embarrassed that the number is used to relay sex chat calls.

Tuvalu is one of a number of small states capitalising on a shortage of desirable Internet addresses:

  • The kingdom of Tonga has an automatic registration site for its .to top level domain. But entering certain obscene names apparently returns the message: "You filthy minded pervert! The kingdom of Tonga admonishes you."

  • Niue, a coral atoll in Polynesia, also risks registering sex sites with its .nu suffix, meaning "naked" in French. But this also means "now" in Scandinavian languages and Americans have registered addresses such as something.really.nu.

  • Turkmenistan has been tremendously popular with its .tm suffix suggesting "trademark". But, again, sex sites have offended and the registration page currently contains the message: "Some of the names registered, however, may be legally obscene in Turkmenistan." As a result, registration has been suspended until a new policy can be implemented.





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