VeriSign's Network Solutions division has had custody of .org since the U.S. government awarded it the contract for domain name administration a decade ago.
Applicants to take over .org include the Internet Society (ISOC), in partnership with Afilias, IBM, Ultra DNS and DSI Technology Escrow Services; the Register.com subsidiary Register Organization; and the Union of International Associations, which is affiliated with VeriSign.
ICANN, a nonprofit, private-sector corporation, was formed in 1998 with the mandate to introduce more competition into the market for domain names. That involved breaking Network Solutions' monopoly control over the three primary top-level domains: .com, .net and .org.
In March 2001, VeriSignto relinquish .net and .org. ICANN subsequently issued a call for applications to take over .org as of Jan. 1, 2003.
Through the end of the year, VeriSign retains control of the .org registry, essentially giving it wholesale rights over .org addresses. Its rights to the .com registry are good through 2007.
VeriSign's successor in controlling .org will be chosen by ICANN's board of directors. Advising the board is ICANN's Domain Name Supporting Organization, in particular that organization's noncommercial domain name holders' constituency.
ICANN is scheduled to post evaluations of the 11 applications on July 22 and to announce a successor to VeriSign on Aug. 1.