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Long-awaited domain application released

After months of wrangling, the nonprofit corporation charged with privatizing administration of the Net's addressing system releases the application for becoming a domain registrar.

For companies hoping to cash in on the ".com" registration bonanza, the waiting is over.

After months of wrangling, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, a nonprofit corporation charged with privatizing administration of the Net's addressing system, has released the long-awaited application for becoming a domain registrar.

Posted yesterday, the application finalizes accreditation requirements for companies that wish to compete with Network Solutions. The Herndon, Virginia, company currently has a government-mandated monopoly on the registration of domain names ending in ".com," ".net," and ".org," which grace an estimated three-quarters of Internet addresses.

The applications, which ICANN members approved last week at a meeting in Singapore, contain a few surprises, and even some of the group's long-standing critics are praising the applications.

"The bar is low enough that any college student with $1,000 and a business plan" can be accredited, said Larry Erlich, a partner with Domain Registry, which hopes to become an early registrar. "It is surprising that they've lowered it so that anybody can be in a position to compete with Network Solutions."

Under the guidelines approved by ICANN, five companies will be selected to participate in a two-month pilot project that starts at the end of April. Hopefuls must submit applications by March 29 and pay a $2,500 fee. Starting this summer, competition will be open to all accredited companies. Those companies may submit applications after June 25 and pay a $1,000 fee.

Companies also must prove they have insurance to cover costs in the event their business fails and to demonstrate they have the technical ability to provide reliable service.