Internet

Island nation gets free Net access

The tiny South Pacific island of Niue has formalized an agreement with a U.S. company to bolster sales of the ".nu" domain and hook the nation's citizens up to the Net for free.

The 2,000 inhabitants of the tiny South Pacific island of Niue have formalized an agreement with a U.S. company to bolster sales of the ".nu" domain and hook the nation's citizens up to the Net for free.

The Polynesian island's leaders, who expect domain name registries to one day account for a huge percentage of the country's exports, strengthened a deal with the Massachusetts-based .NU Domain Limited to sell the ".nu" country-code domain. Along with a new revenue stream, Nieu's 13 villages also will get hooked to the Net at no cost.

Already, 30,000 names have been registered with ".nu."

"There was no way a tiny developing nation like ours could have paid for these kinds of services without outside funding," Richard St. Clair, technical manager for the Internet Users Society--Niue (IUS-N), .NU Domain's parent company, said in a statement.

The company has agreed to respect the right of Niue to implement its own policies for Net usage. Niue's leaders renewed the country's agreement to lease government-owned land to IUS-N for 10 years, with an option to tack 10 more years on to the lease. The ".nu" domain registration fee is $25 per year.

The move comes as the domain name registry business is on the brink of increased competition.

In March, Network Solutions, which currently runs the allocation of top-level domains for the U.S. government, must open its coveted ".com" registration base to five select competitors. The change is laid out in Commerce Department agreements with Network Solutions and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a nonprofit organization recognized by the U.S. government to set up the new registrar accreditation system as well as guidelines for governance of the Net's technical anatomy.