VeriSign operates the registry for Internet addresses that end with the suffixes .com, .net and .org, handling the database where the names and subscriptions are stored. But people can sign up for domain names through multiple companies, known as registrars, that work with VeriSign to assign Web addresses.
The Mountain View, Calif.-based company submitted its Domain Names Wait Listing Service proposal to a group of registrars late last year and is collecting feedback through Jan. 18. It hopes to have a trial service up and running in late March.
People who own a domain name in most cases have just a one-year right to the name and must renew their subscription annually to maintain control of the name. VeriSign's proposal would allow people interested in taking over a domain name to automatically assume control if the current owner does not renew the subscription.
This type of service is not entirely new. Companies including SnapNames already offer services that monitor Net names and try to grab them once they become available. The VeriSign proposal essentially moves the process up a level, monitoring the names directly at the registry instead of requiring the registrars to search VeriSign's registry themselves.
VeriSign has licensed SnapNames' Parallel Registry technology for its Wait Listing Service, the companies said Friday.
"At that level of implementation, you would have a higher rate of success than if you were on a wait list" with someone else, said VeriSign spokeswoman Cheryl Regan.
The proposal comes as the number of sites on the Internet has slipped and as registrations of addresses ending in domains such as .com have declined. Internet consultancy Netcraft said this week that the number of Web sites dropped by 182,142 from November to December, marking only the second time in more than five years that the survey has found fewer sites online in a monthly period. That still leaves some 36 million sites online.
Under the new service, one person at a time would be allowed to sign up for a domain name. If the name expires and is not renewed, that person would automatically be signed up for the name. VeriSign said in the proposal that it would consider allowing more than one person to be on a waiting list for a specific domain name, depending on demand.
The proposal also says that VeriSign would likely charge registrars $40 for a one-year subscription. The registrars would then resell the service to consumers. VeriSign pointed out that companies currently charge consumers about $49 for similar services.
"There's already evidence people want a service like this. We believe this will be more appealing because it's more efficient and will be more effective," Regan said.