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Another domain fight erupts

Network Solutions is fighting a plan by the International Ad Hoc Committee to change the way domain names are assigned.

Another challenge is being mounted to a plan to make more domain names available.

Network Solutions, the Herndon, Virginia, company that has made millions under a government-granted monopoly to sell Net names in popular domains such as ".com," is questioning the authority of the International Ad Hoc Committee (IAHC) to change the way domain names are assigned.

The committee's plan would end Network Solutions' government-granted monopoly for registering names in the ".com", ".net", and ".org" domains, among others. It would allow up to 28 other authorities to assign names in newly created top-level domains such as ".web."

Of greatest concern to Network Solutions is the plan's call for opening its exclusive top-level domains to competitors when the company's agreement with the National Science Foundation ends in March of 1998.

"The plan certainly gives a cause for concern," Christopher Clough, director of communications for Network Solutions, said today. "The larger issue is who has authority to make these kind of decisions for the Internet. I think it is healthy that IAHC raise these issues and debates, but I don't think it's healthy for anyone to assume that this is anywhere ready for implementation."

Network Solutions will release a paper responding to the plan in the next few weeks. Clough said the company will lobby for a system that "better handles" IP address allocation and is more "market-driven," but he didn't offer specifics.