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Domain registry trial period extended

The trial period for bringing new entrants into the lucrative ".com" registration business has been extended until the middle of July, Network Solutions and the Commerce Department say.

The trial period for bringing new entrants into the lucrative ".com" registration business has been extended until the middle of July so the five initial registrars have more time to test the system, Network Solutions and the Commerce Department said today.

The three-week extension was largely expected because it took the "test-bed" registrars longer than originally scheduled to plug into the shared registration system designed by NSI and the nonprofit organization assuming responsibility for administration of the Internet.

To date, only one of the five registrars, Register.com, has begun selling domain names under the shared registration system. It took until June 7 for the New York City-based registrar to come online, about five weeks longer than expected.

The other four are still testing their systems and have not said when they will be operating under the shared registration system. Network Solutions today said that only one of the five registrars has not "achieved [shared registration system] technical certification" but declined to name the company.

Today's announcement comes as a stalemate between NSI and the nonprofit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers appears to be growing. At issue is whether NSI--which until recently had sole authority to register domain names ending in ".com," ".net," and ".org" under a cooperative agreement with the federal government--must sign an agreement with ICANN to continue registering domain names. NSI also controls databases crucial to running the Internet.

It is unclear when the four remaining test-bed registrars--CORE (Internet Council of Registrars), Melbourne IT, France Telecom, and America Online--will begin selling names under the shared registration system, but several of them have indicated they hope to be operating by the end of the month.

Becky Burr, a Commerce Department official overseeing the contract with NSI, indicated that the test-bed period would be extended "if inadequate testing had taken place."

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