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Monday, 17 December, 2001, 16:53 GMT
The net gets a new .name
A sample of possible domains for John Smith, BBC
The range of possible domains is expanding
Soon you could own a slice of cyberspace bearing your own name.

The .name domain goes live in mid-January 2002 and bookings are already being taken from those keen to use their own name as their online domain.

The company behind .name is hoping that its domains become the preferred digital messaging point for netizens, and that they eventually evolve into a universal address that can route messages between different networks.

The .name suffix is the third of the net's seven new domains to go live.

Novel net domains

From 15 January next year interested net users should be able to find, and visit, the first .name websites.

Over the past two months Global Name Registry (GNR), owners of .name, has been accepting applications from companies or celebrities who want to protect their brands and names from cybersquatters as well as from a few individuals eager to snap up the novel domains.

New names
.biz - businesses
.name - individuals
.museum - museums
.pro - professionals
.aero - aviation
.coop - cooperatives
.info - general information

During this "sunrise" period companies or famous people who want to protect a well-known name from abuse have been invited to buy "defensive" registrations that stop others using that domain for 10 years.

Alternatively, organisations or individuals can opt to be told when anyone else applies for a domain with a name they claim rights to.

The "sunrise" period has proved very popular with celebrities, sports stars and companies with large product portfolios. One unnamed firm has bought 40 defensive registrations for its products.

Because .name was meant for individuals rather than organisations it should avoid many of the trademark disputes that had caused trouble for the .info and .biz domains, said Andrew Tsai, chief executive of Global Name Registry.

Apply here

The .name domains will take the form of www.john.smith.name. This format allowed GNR to support up to four billion acceptable combinations of first names, initials, nicknames and surnames, said Mr Tsai.

E-mail addresses associated with the .name domains will take the form, for the above example, of john@smith.name.

Andrew Tsai - chief of Global Name Registry, GNR
Tsai: Huge demand for personal domains
When the first .name domains go live, Global Name Registry will start a second "landrush" period for individuals wanting to secure a domain bearing their name.

Already more than 70 registrars who sell .name domains on behalf of Global Name Registry are taking bookings for this second phase.

"We think there'll be a huge demand for personal domains that is going unanswered right now," said Mr Tsai.

If two or more people with the same name apply for one .name domain it will be awarded to one of the applicants on a random basis.

On disputed names, preference will be given to those who can prove that they have that name with a passport, birth certificate or other supporting documentation.

Many people were likely to use the e-mail address associated with their personal domain name as a permanent method of contacting them that persists no matter how many times that person changed jobs or moved house, said Mr Tsai.

Already GNR is working on ways to let .name domains act as a digital identifier that will let them sign in to online services via Microsoft's Passport or the rival Liberty Alliance service.

Eventually .name domains may be able to translate information from one network, such as an e-mail, into a form acceptable to another, such as a mobile phone.

"Your .name is not just going to be your domain and permanent e-mail address for life," said Mr Tsai. "It could also be a cell phone number and identify you with your PDA."

See also:

12 Oct 01 | Sci/Tech
New net domain 'fiasco'
07 Nov 01 | Sci/Tech
New domains taking hold
29 Sep 01 | Sci/Tech
Internet ranges in new domains
19 Jun 01 | Sci/Tech
Novel net domains court controversy
09 Oct 01 | Business
Nasdaq evicts 'cybersquatter'
29 Nov 01 | Sci/Tech
Putting the people online
14 Jun 01 | Sci/Tech
Net promises closer ties
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