Standards set for registering Net
New York Times
Companies wanting to compete with Network Solutions
Inc. and its current monopoly in the lucrative business
registering Internet domain names can begin applying for
consideration next Monday.
Criteria for registration were approved last week in
Singapore by the new nonprofit corporation appointed by
the Clinton administration to take over administration
the Internet from the U.S. government and to introduce
competition into the system of assigning the Internet
addresses known as domains.
The initial accreditation guidelines called for
applicants to have $100,000 in liquid
capital, $500,000 in liability insurance, a proven
computer infrastructure and at least
five employees. Esther Dyson, interim chairwoman of the
group's board, said that in
relaxing the guidelines the board would allow exceptions
to some of the standards.
The criteria were among the first policy decisions made
by Internet Corporation for
Assigned Names and Numbers, or Icann.
Tackling other issues, the board also forged a structure
for the body that will
ultimately recommend how and when to add new top-level
domains -- the
three-letter suffixes like .com and .org -- to
accommodate demand for new Internet
addresses. In addition, the board adopted a
conflict-of-interest policy and
established procedures for reviewing its staff
``We made some major progress toward creating a truly
competitive environment in
the .com, .net and .org domain-naming system,'' Ms.
Dyson said. ``We also showed
the consensus process in operation by changing our
initial proposals to reflect the
Although the creation of Icann and just about everything
the board has proposed have
stirred opposition and controversy around the globe,
nothing has been more
contentious than its refusal to hammer out policy
decisions in public.
Ms. Dyson said the board had also relaxed its
requirements for companies that
wanted to compete with Network Solutions, which has
operated until now as a
government-protected monopoly. It is currently the
exclusive registrar for the most
popular top-level domains -- .com, .net and .org.
International complaints about the company's lucrative
monopoly led the United
States last year to create Icann and to move
administration of the Internet from
federal contractors to the new private corporation.
``You can either meet that criteria or you can prove to
us that you don't need to,''
Ms. Dyson said. ``You can say, `Hey, I've got only two
guys, but we're total Net
heads, we've been in business five years, we've never
had any complaints. We don't
need five employees.'''
Icann's initial goal is to introduce five competitors to
business by the end of April. That test is expected to
last about two months, after
which Icann plans to let an unlimited number of
companies around the world
participate in the registry.
Applications for those initial five will be taken
beginning next Monday. The Icann
staff, led by its interim president, Mike Roberts, will
pick the first five companies from those applicants.
After that, Ms. Dyson said, Icann will lower the threshold.