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.Com stands for competition

The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority will soon allow organizations other than InterNIC to assign domain names.

Disney.com belongs to the mouse, but Disney.inc could still be yours.

As early as January, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority will begin issuing licenses to let organizations other than InterNIC assign names in up to 50 newly created, officially sanctioned top-level domains (TLDs), CNET has learned.

The proposal is being finalized just weeks after companies started selling names in their own unapproved TLDs. Alternic, and Macro Computer Solutions charge that SAIC Network Solutions, the contractor which now charges for the once-free InterNIC name registration service, holds an unfair monopoly on the gold mine of commercial Internet names.

The InterNIC isn't the only agency that registers approved domain names, but it has a lock on the handful of the most commercially valuable domains, ".com" and ".net." By June of this year there were more than 250,000 ".com" names with registrations coming in at over 10,000 per month. In fact, ".com" has become so congested that the few available names have begun fetching hundreds of times their $50 annual registration fees. Microsoft bought "slate.com" for $10,000 and CNET unsuccessfully bid $50,000 for "television.com."

The difference between home-brewed TLDs like the Alternic's ".biz" and the new IANA-licensed TLDs is access. IANA TLDs will be accessible from anywhere on the Net. A site in the ".biz" domain isn't accessible from most computers on the Net because Alternic sites aren't listed in the main "root" servers. Root servers match up easily remembered domain names, like "CNET.com," with cryptic TCP/IP addresses, such as 190.120.122.80.

IANA will form a committee and begin taking applications to establish new domains in October. Potential registry-holders will be allowed to apply for the TLD of their choice and will be chosen based on their ability to administer the TLD.

Jon Postel, head of the IANA, said the authority hasn't yet decided how to handle disputes. Registries will pass two percent of whatever they make from selling domain names to the IANA, which plans to use the money to help replace, maintain, and run root servers, said Postel.

What will happen to ".biz" and its ilk? "Maybe it's just part of pushing the process along to rebel a little and try to do things outside the system," Postel said. "As new registries and domains come into play, they will fall by the wayside."

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