VeriSign may sidestep split

VeriSign Inc. apparently won't have to split its domain name registration business this spring as anticipated, thanks to a tentative agreement with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). VeriSign was required to spin off its back-end domain name registry business or its customer-facing domain name registrar business by May 10, 2001, under the terms of its original contract with ICANN. With its acquisition of Network Solutions Inc. last year, VeriSign operates the sole registry for .com, .net and .org domains as well as the top sales channel for names in 350-plus top-level domains and country codes including .tv and .uk. With VeriSign facing intense competition in its registry and registrar businesses, ICANN officials say they no longer believe it is necessary for the firm to split up to continue operating the popular .com registry. Instead, VeriSign has agreed to relinquish control over the .org registry as of January 1, 2003, and to provide a US$5 million endowment to fund the operating expenses of a new nonprofit .org registry.

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