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Third trial domain registrar goes online

The Internet Council of Registrars is up and running, but its chairman complains that "unfounded delays" on the part of Network Solutions have cost his organization up to $100,000.

A third registrar designated to test the competitive waters for registration of the most popular form of Internet addresses is up and running, but its chairman is complaining that "unfounded delays" on the part of Network Solutions have cost his organization up to $100,000.

CORE (Internet Council of Registrars) today became the third "test-bed" registrar to plug into a shared registration system designed to end NSI's grip on registering the three types of domains, which account for well over half of all Internet addresses. For CORE chairman Ken Stubbs, however, it was a bittersweet occasion.

"The happy ending is we're up and running," Stubbs told CNET News.com. "We're not happy about the terms we have to operate under."

NSI spokesman Brian O'Shaughnessy said NSI has worked hard to make the shared registration system work. "I'm glad that CORE is up and running, and I'm hopeful we can put all this bickering behind us," he added.

Chief among Stubbs's complaints are "unfounded delays" he said NSI experienced in getting CORE connected. CORE, an organization of about 55 registrars from 23 countries, received final approval to go live a week ago today, Stubbs said, but a series of events prevented NSI from throwing the switch until today.

A hacking episode Friday that redirected traffic away from NSI's Web site, a long holiday weekend, and a clerical error that caused NSI to lose CORE's fax number all contributed to the delay, Stubbs said.

"We figure that we've lost somewhere between $50,000 and $100,000 in registrations, and that's being conservative," Stubbs said. The estimates assume that CORE would have sold at least 200 domain names per day since last Friday. "The deck is stacked against me because our agreement gives me no recourse for delays like this, but it gives NSI recourse against CORE for almost anything."

O'Shaughnessy declined to comment on CORE's claims about financial losses.

Like the other five initial registrars, CORE was required to post a $100,000 "performance bond" before it could obtain the software needed to become a registrar. NSI has wide latitude to draw from the bond whenever it can show its business has been harmed by a registrar. There are no reciprocal provisions protecting registrars.

CORE joins Register.com and Melbourne IT in successfully connecting to the shared registration system, which cost NSI $25 million to develop. The nonprofit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, appointed to assume control of the Net, has provided oversight.

Register.com, the first registrar to go live, took about five weeks longer than expected to do so. The other two test-bed registrars, America Online and Oleane, a division of France Telecom, have not said when they expect to be up and running.