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Press Release: ICANN Names Competitive Domain-Name Registrars

(WASHINGTON - April 21, 1999) The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) today announced the five companies that have been selected to participate in the initial testbed phase of the new competitive Shared Registry System for the .com, .net, and .org domains. These five participants will be the first to implement the new system for competition in the market for .com, .net, and .org domain name registration services. Currently, registration services in the .com, .net, and .org domains are provided by Network Solutions, Inc. (NSI), which has enjoyed an exclusive right to handle registrations under a 1993 Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Government.

The five registrars participating in the testbed are, in alphabetical order:

  • America Online
  • CORE (Internet Council of Registrars)
  • France Telecom/Oléane
  • Melbourne IT
  • register.com

Under the Cooperative Agreement between NSI and the U.S. Government, the competitive registrar testbed program will begin on April 26 and will last until June 24, 1999 (Phase I). Following the conclusion of Phase I, the Shared Registry System for the .com, .net, and .org domains will be opened on equal terms to all accredited registrars, meaning that any company that meets ICANN's standards for accreditation will be able to enter the market as a registrar and offer customers competitive domain name registration services in the .com, .net, and .org domains.

"Today's announcement marks a major milestone in the joint efforts of the public and private sectors to bring Internet users the benefits of real competition in registration services in the most popular Internet domains -- .com, .net, and .org," said Esther Dyson, ICANN's interim chairman. "The five testbed participants bring a wealth of technical capability, business experience, and geographic reach to the testbed program, and each has demonstrated a strong commitment to make this effort succeed on behalf of the global Internet community."

In addition to the five testbed participants, ICANN also announced today that 29 other applicant companies have met its accreditation criteria and are expected to be accredited to compete as registrars upon completion of the testbed phase. Those companies include the following: 9NetAvenue; A Technology Company; Active ISP; Alldomains.com; All West Communications; American Domain Name Registry; AT&T; Domain Direct; DomainRegistry.com; eNom, Inc.; InfoAvenue; InfoNetworks; InfoRamp; Interactive Telecom Network; Interdomain; Internet Domain Registrars; interQ Incorporated; MS Intergate; NameSecure.com; Name.Space Inc.; NetBenefit; NetNames; Nominalia; Port Information System AB; RCN; Telepartner AS; Verio; Virtual Internet; and WebTrends.

"As the list of post-testbed registrars makes clear, there is a tremendous level of commercial interest in opening the market for domain name services to competition," said Mike Roberts, ICANN's interim president and CEO. "These companies are ready, willing, and able to compete. ICANN is committed to working with the United States Government, the testbed participants, and all post-testbed registrars to launch this program successfully."

COMMENTS FROM TESTBED PARTICIPANTS

George Vradenburg, Senior Vice President for Global and Strategic Policy, America Online:

"Today's announcement is an important step in the Internet's evolution. Movement to an open, competitive model in domain names is, in fact, a natural step for a medium that has thrived because of its openness. America Online looks forward to participating in the testbed phase of the transition to a competitive system."

Ken Stubbs, Chair of the Executive Committee, CORE:

"We at CORE are very pleased to see a major step in the transition process being taken here and are honored to be chosen as one of the key organizations selected to play a significant role in effecting the movement towards more open global participation and competition in the domain name registration process. This is the first of many important changes which we feel will ultimately result in a more competitive and open process for management of the expansion of the domain name system. CORE commends ICANN and the participating parties for their hard work and commitment to the spirit of the "white paper" process and looks forward to the opportunity to play an increasing role in the global transition of the Internet into the 21st century."

Jean-Jacques Damlamian, Group Executive Vice-President, Development Division, France Telecom:

"France Telecom has played an active role in the worldwide consensus-building effort that led to the creation of ICANN. Today, France Telecom is very proud to be selected by ICANN as one of the testbed registrars. It will contribute to strengthening our position as a leading Internet company, by acknowledging our capacity to be a partner of the Internet development at the international level. Moreover, our subsidiary Oléane, which was a pioneer of the Internet in France, is once more at the forefront of the Internet evolution, by taking part in this strategic project for the future of the network."

Peter Gerrand, CEO of Melbourne IT:

"As the largest registrar in the Asia-Pacific region, Melbourne IT is excited to expand its operations in the global domain name registration business. We are committed to working with the other four testbed registrars in this historic opening of the .com, .net, and .org registries to competition, which will result in lower costs, better service, and more choices for customers. In particular, we look forward to offering a high standard of service to the diverse and booming Internet market throughout the Asia-Pacific region."

Richard Forman, CEO and President of register.com:

"We are very pleased to have been selected by ICANN to be one of the five test-bed registrars. We would like to thank the members of ICANN and the Department of Commerce for this vote of confidence. We would also like to thank all register.com employees, for turning our company's vision into a reality, and our hundreds of thousands of customers who have made register.com's service the most popular registrar on the Internet. Moving forward, register.com is looking forward to a healthy and cooperative relationship with Network Solutions in re-defining this industry. Our mutual efforts will create a larger, more diverse market, thereby benefiting all accredited registrars and customers alike. Register.com welcomes this next stage in the further development of the Internet industry."

ABOUT ICANN

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is a new global non-profit corporation formed to oversee a set of the Internet's core technical management functions. Between now and September 2000, ICANN will gradually be assuming responsibility for coordinating the assignment of protocol parameters, the management of the domain name system and root server systems, and the allocation of IP address space.

In the past, many of these functions have been handled by the U.S. Government or by its contractors and volunteers. This informal structure represented the spirit and culture of the research community in which the Internet developed. However, the growing size and international importance of the Internet has necessitated the creation of a technical management body that is both more formalized in structure and more fully reflective of the geographic diversity of the Internet community.

ICANN is a non-profit corporation with a ten-member international Board of Directors. Its Initial Board is led by interim chairman Esther Dyson, and has members drawn from Europe, North America, and the Asia/Pacific region. This initial board has been charged with finalizing ICANN's bylaws and procedures and working to pave the way for a smooth and stable transition from the present administrative system. The initial board members will ultimately be replaced by board members elected by three different constituency groups based on technical subjects and an at-large membership, collectively representing a broad cross-section of the Internet's technical and user communities around the globe.  

For more information, please contact:

Mike Roberts
Interim President and CEO, ICANN
roberts@icann.org
+1 (650) 854-2108

Andrew McLaughlin
Senior Adviser, ICANN
mclaughlin@icann.org
+1 (617) 495-4935

Pam Brewster
Alexander Ogilvy
+1 (415) 923-1660

ABOUT THE TESTBED REGISTRARS

America Online

Founded in 1985, America Online, Inc., based in Dulles, Virginia, is the world's leader in interactive services, Web brands, Internet technologies, and E-commerce services. America Online, Inc. operates: two worldwide Internet services, America Online, with more than 17 million members, and CompuServe, with approximately 2 million members; several leading Internet brands including ICQ and Digital City, Inc.; the Netscape Netcenter and AOL.COM portals; and the Netscape Navigator and Communicator browsers.

Contact: Jim Whitney
Tel: +1 (703) 265-2896
Email: whitneyjg@aol.com

CORE (Internet Council of Registrars)

CORE (http://www.corenic.org ) is a not-for-profit international membership association of Internet domain name registrars. It was created in the fall of 1996 in order to fund, develop and run a shared registry system (SRS) for the proposed new generic top-level domains (gTLDs). CORE's membership spans 23 countries and reflects a wide array of domain names-related activities, including ISPs, telecommunications carriers, country code TLD registries, research foundations and specialized small businesses.

Contact: Tom Gable
Tel: +1 (619) 234-1300
Email: tomg@gablegroup.com

France Telecom/ Oléane

Oléane (http://www.oleane.com), created in 1989, was an Internet pioneer in France. Oléane has since grown to be the leading ISP serving business customers in France and was acquired by France Telecom (http://www.francetelecom.fr) in 1998. France Telecom is one of the world's leading telecommunications carriers with operations in more than 50 countries and 24.6 billion euros in 1998 revenues. In addition to Internet services, France Telecom provides businesses and consumers with a full range of services, including local, long-distance and international telephony, as well as data, wireless, cable-TV and value-added services. France Telecom is listed on the Paris Bourse and the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: FTE).

Paris contact: Nilou Du Castel, +33 1 44 44 93 93, <nilou.ducastel@francetelecom.fr>
New York contact: Elizabeth Mayeri, +1 (212) 332-2115, <elizabeth.mayeri@francetelecom.fr>

Melbourne IT

Melbourne IT is an Australian IT company that provides high-performance e-commerce services. Melbourne IT's business division Internet Names Australia, which administers the .com.au domain for Australian businesses, is the largest country code-based commercial domain name administrator in the Asia-Pacific region. It was the first domain name registrar in the world to offer money-back service performance guarantees, and to provide pre-sale online linkages to authoritative trademark and business registration databases.

Contact: Clive Flory
Tel: +61 (3) 9344-9337
Email: clive@ina.com.au

Register.com

Register.com is a division of Forman Interactive Corp., a leading provider of Internet-based solutions for small- and medium-sized businesses. Register.com was ranked among the top 100 Web Sites by PC Magazine in both December 1998 and April 1999. The Company has relationships with First Data Corporation, USA.NET, Geocities, theglobe.com, spree.com and Ziff Davis. Forman Interactive Corp. was founded in 1994 and is based in New York, NY.

PR Contact: Joyce Connelley
Email: jwconn@register.com
Tel: +1-408-294-9293.


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Domain Name System
Internationalized Domain Name ,IDN,"IDNs are domain names that include characters used in the local representation of languages that are not written with the twenty-six letters of the basic Latin alphabet ""a-z"". An IDN can contain Latin letters with diacritical marks, as required by many European languages, or may consist of characters from non-Latin scripts such as Arabic or Chinese. Many languages also use other types of digits than the European ""0-9"". The basic Latin alphabet together with the European-Arabic digits are, for the purpose of domain names, termed ""ASCII characters"" (ASCII = American Standard Code for Information Interchange). These are also included in the broader range of ""Unicode characters"" that provides the basis for IDNs. The ""hostname rule"" requires that all domain names of the type under consideration here are stored in the DNS using only the ASCII characters listed above, with the one further addition of the hyphen ""-"". The Unicode form of an IDN therefore requires special encoding before it is entered into the DNS. The following terminology is used when distinguishing between these forms: A domain name consists of a series of ""labels"" (separated by ""dots""). The ASCII form of an IDN label is termed an ""A-label"". All operations defined in the DNS protocol use A-labels exclusively. The Unicode form, which a user expects to be displayed, is termed a ""U-label"". The difference may be illustrated with the Hindi word for ""test"" — परीका — appearing here as a U-label would (in the Devanagari script). A special form of ""ASCII compatible encoding"" (abbreviated ACE) is applied to this to produce the corresponding A-label: xn--11b5bs1di. A domain name that only includes ASCII letters, digits, and hyphens is termed an ""LDH label"". Although the definitions of A-labels and LDH-labels overlap, a name consisting exclusively of LDH labels, such as""icann.org"" is not an IDN."