Wednesday, September 30, 1998 Published at 14:44 GMT 15:44 UK
Domain name row heads for overtime
Still question marks over who will control the domain name system
By Internet Correspondent Chris Nuttall
The US government has extended Network Solutions contract to register top-level Internet domain names by another week, with disputes over the body which will succeed it now likely to continue past Wednesday's midnight deadline.
Rather than allowing an uncomfortable hiatus and risking possible chaos, the Commerce department is prepared to allow Network Solutions (NSI) to continue in its job past September 30 while discussions continue over how the Net will be named in future.
Network Solutions handles the .com, .net, .org and .edu addresses, while the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) deals with the Internet Protocol numbers behind them ( for example http://www.bbc.co.uk/news can also be reached as http://126.96.36.199/) and the root servers that run the domain name system.
A body which combines the two functions, with international representation, is proposed by IANA, called the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. This would be an independent non-profit organisation compared to the commercially-run Network Solutions, which had been granted a government contract.
Network Solutions statement
NSI said in a statement on its Website on Wednesday that talks with Commerce's National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA) had led to an extension to October 7.
NTIA and NSI representatives would continue negotiations, it said, and "remain confident regarding the continued stability and security of the Internet."
The New York Times reported on Wednesday that there was no agreement yet on NSI handing over key equipment and software to a new interim board.
NSI also did not put its name to a fifth draft proposal for the new corporation published by IANA on Tuesday. Sections seen as advantageous to the company had been deleted.
The US government in the form of its Internet guru Ira Magaziner will ultimately approve the new body, although Mr Magaziner has said the final proposal will get a public airing first.