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Second "test bed" domain registrar goes to work

The second of five registrars appointed to test a shared registration system for the most popular form of Internet addresses takes its service live.

The second of five registrars appointed to test a shared registration system for the most popular form of Internet addresses took its service live today, offering domain names for resellers who buy in bulk.

Internet Names WorldWide, a division of Melbourne IT, said today that it began selling domain names to authorized partners under the program.

The Commerce Department devised the shared registration system in cooperation with Network Solutions to open up the registration of addresses ending in ".com," ".net," and ".org" to any accredited registrar. Previously, a cooperative agreement awarded in 1992 gave NSI a monopoly on the lucrative business.

So far, the introduction of competition has done little to bring down the price of registering domain names, which account for more than half of the Net's addresses.

Like Register.com, the only other "test bed" registrar now up and running, Internet Names is charging the same $70 fee for two-year ownership of a domain name charged by NSI. Internet Names, however, said it would offer a discount to partners who buy more than 100 names at a time.

Internet Names and Register.com in April were appointed by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers to test the domain registration system. Also named were America Online, a division of France Telecom, and CORE (the Internet Council of Registrars).

Plugging into NSI's registry system has proved more difficult than officials articulated when they announced the shared registration system. Register.com, which went live June 7, took about five weeks longer than expected to come online.

The remaining three test-bed registrars have not provided any clear estimate about when they will be operating under the system. Melbourne IT said it would be a "few weeks" until it would register domain names directly to consumers.

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