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NSI readies company profile service

Network Solutions will announce Monday that it intends to launch a service that publishes additional information about companies that have registered for URLs.

LOS ANGELES--Network Solutions is slated to announce Monday that it will launch a service that publishes additional information about companies that have registered for URLs.

Network Solutions, which registers the domain names of companies on the Internet, will license data on the companies--including addresses, ownership, number of employees, years in business, annual sales, and phone and facsimile numbers--from Omaha-based InfoUSA. The rollout is set for June, according to NSI executives.

InfoUSA, which maintains a database on 11 million U.S. businesses, already sells mailing lists and credit reports on companies from its Web site. InfoUSA, whose best known subsidiaries are Database America and American Business Information, also will add NSI's ".com" directory to its Web site.

Network Solutions is presently the sole registrar of domain names ending in ".com," ".net", and ".org" but is about to lose that exclusive status. Its new profile offering will seek to wring more profits out of its database of 4 million registered URLs--and is likely to be criticized by rivals such as Domain Registry as well as privacy advocates.

"Opting out" of the service won't be possible until later, executives said. The service expands on the information about domain name registrants that is available through the interNIC "Whois" function.

When it launches in June, it will list basic information on all URL-holders. The ability to opt out of the listing will be added in future versions, and the company expects to roll out new features monthly, at least in the beginning.

"We need to be more than a domain name company," said Douglas Wolford, NSI executive vice president. "We believe we are the operating system for the Internet."

The new initiative represents an effort to exploit the data NSI has collected for revenue, Wolford added. The company is also exploring ways to serve as an outsourcer for corporations, perhaps in managing their internal online directories of employees.

Also, in return for connecting buyers to online sellers-?the ultimate goal of ".com" directory?-NSI may collect a percentage of any transactions that result from that link. But that service is at least 12 months away, said Wolford.

Vinod Gupta, CEO of infoUSA, sees pent-up demand for NSI's new service, which provides a way for Net users to search for business Web sites by name, type of business, and location.

"This will be a starting point for e-commerce?-there's no such thing as this kind of Internet Yellow Pages now," said Gupta. InfoUSA's database is already used by sites such as Yahoo, Microsoft Network, America Online, U S West, and Ameritech.

In addition to InfoUSA, NSI's offering will also tap VeriSign, which issues the majority of digital certificates that identify secure Web sites.

Other partners include Vicinity, which is bulding the software for the new site. GTE's SuperPages site also will offer the new service. In addition, GTE's 25,000 sales reps for its printed Yellow Page directories will sell NSI domain names, simple home pages, and email service.