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Saturday, 29 September, 2001, 07:34 GMT 08:34 UK
Internet ranges in new domains
Screen grab from the Afilias homepage
Some .info domains are already live
By BBC News Online technology correspondent Mark Ward

Almost without anyone noticing, the internet has got a tiny bit bigger.

Some of the sites registered under the new .info and .biz domain names can already be viewed.

Few hold any useful information. Many are just temporary - holding sites that will come to life when they are launched properly. Others redirect browsers to already existing sites.

Over the next couple of weeks, many more websites registered under the new domains are expected to go live. And many of the biggest companies in the world have already grabbed the new web addresses bearing their names.

Magnificent seven

Currently, sites on the net are organised around a collection of top level domains. Some, such as .com and .org, give clues about what the entity owning that name does.

New names
.biz - businesses
.name - individuals
.museum - museums
.pro - professionals
.aero - aviation
.coop - cooperatives
.info - general information
A .com net address is supposed to indicate a commercial organisation. Alongside these are country code domains for individual nations such as .uk for Britain.

In November last year, the net's co-ordinating body, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) chose seven names to expand the range of top level domains available on the net.

Now, some of the new domains registered under these new suffixes are going live.

Afilias, the registry administering the .info domain, said its www.afilias.info domain has been viewable for a few weeks.

screen grab from the Neulevel .biz homepage
The .biz homepage is also live
In the last few days, some of the websites of the companies that have registered .info domains are being switched on.

The .info domains of PC maker Dell and credit card giant Visa are among the few that actually have something on them. Visa's displays a message saying more information will be available soon. The Dell.info page redirects browsers to the main Dell.com pages.

Big switch on

A spokeswoman for Afilias said over 52,000 domain names had been registered in the "sunrise" period, which gave trademark owners a chance to reserve a domain bearing their name or one of the products they made. Some of the world's biggest brands, such as Coca-Cola, Marlboro, Nike, Nokia, Sony and Pepsi, have registered .info domains.

She said some of the companies that had registered .info domains had now started to develop webpages specific to the new sites. Afilias is also processing the 250,000 applications for .info domains submitted by members of the public. Some of these sites will become viewable during the first week of October.

Close-up of Visa's .info webpage
Visa's .info page isn't very exciting
Also next week, many of the domains registered under the .biz suffix could go live. Already the website of Neulevel, the registry for .biz, can be visited. The company said that .biz domains, for which only one person applied during its sunrise period, should be viewable by 1 October.

It has set a date of 23 October for all remaining .biz domains to be viewable. After that date, Neulevel will take orders for domains on a first-come, first-served basis.

Neulevel delayed the switch-on of the .biz domain to take account of the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York.

See also:

19 Jun 01 | Sci/Tech
Novel net domains court controversy
10 Apr 01 | Sci/Tech
Net name chaos grows
17 Nov 00 | Sci/Tech
Doubts surround new domain names
19 Sep 00 | Sci/Tech
Money for nothing
07 Sep 01 | Sci/Tech
Net body grapples with people power
25 May 01 | Sci/Tech
Prepare to do .bizness
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