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Domain registrar hopefulls get reprieve

Firms hoping to compete with Network Solutions in the lucrative business of registering ".com" addresses have an extra week to submit applications.

Firms hoping to compete with Network Solutions in the lucrative business of registering ".com" addresses have an extra week to submit applications.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the nonprofit See Don Telage Newsmaker group formed to open competition with Network Solutions (NSI), said companies wishing to be considered in a trial run have until April 8 to submit applications. The deadline had been scheduled for today.

ICANN said it extended the date after potential registrars complained they lacked information about technical details needed to complete the applications.

"ICANN has been assured that NSI and the U.S. Department of Commerce are working expeditiously to resolve outstanding issues," the group said in a statement. ICANN added that NSI already had provided answers to a list of frequently asked questions describing technical requirements for would-be competitors.

The Commerce Department is charged with opening up competition to NSI, which signed a contract in 1993 to be the sole registrar of domain names ending in ".com," ".net," and ".org."

ICANN said companies that have filed The missing links to domain competition applications already need not register again, although they are free to do so if they wish to supplement their submissions based on the new information provided by NSI. ICANN is using the applications to choose five registrars that will compete with NSI on a trial run. ICANN expects to name the "testbed" registrars within the next month. By summer, ICANN said it expects to open the field up to any company that meets accreditation guidelines.

NSI's exclusive government contract has allowed the Herndon, Virginia, company to enjoy a monopoly in registering the most popular form of Internet addresses. Although there are other registrars that offer country code suffixes, such as ".us" and ".uk," the endings offered by NSI now account for an estimated 75 percent of the world's domain names.

Critics say NSI has provided poor service to its customers and that Net users will be better served when the company is forced to compete. NSI, for its part, says a few vocal critics have exagerated isolated service interruptions and that it welcomes competition.