In a direct challenge to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a new domain name registry on Monday announced that it has begun selling an additional 20 top-level domains (TLDs), including .kids, .travel and .xxx, for US$25 per year. The new TLDs are more logical and easier to remember than the existing TLDs and go beyond the seven new TLDs that ICANN announced late last year, David Hernand, chief executive officer of New.net Inc., said Monday during a conference call.
"We are a market-based solution to the naming system in contrast with a political-based solution, which has moved slowly," Hernand said. "The first seven (TLDs) were released over 10 years ago ... by great visionary minds who simply did not envision how popular the Internet would become. We hope to move quickly into this space to provide consumers the names they want now."
At the same time, Hernand said New.net doesn't view itself as conflicting with ICANN, calling it instead a "supplement to what ICANN has done thus far."
In addition to .kids, . travel and .xxx, New.net is selling names ending in .shop, .mp3, .inc, .sport, .family, .chat, .video, .club, .hola, .soc, .med, .law, .game, .free, .ltd, .gmbh and .tech. New.net is using the same uniform dispute resolution policy that ICANN uses for protecting trademarks and resolving disputes over ownership of names, Hernand said.
But some of the TLDs in New.net's list, particularly .travel, could put New.net on a collision course with ICANN because they are among those that ICANN wants to consider the next time it selects new TLDs. ICANN selected .aero, .biz, .coop, .info, .museum, .name, and .pro as new generic TLDs in November, but rejected .travel and several others for various reasons. Implementation of the new TLDs has been delayed.
ICANN had no comment on New.com's announcement, said Brett LaGrande, a spokesman for the organization.
The TLDs work within the existing DNS (domain name system) infrastructure using a method New.net set up with UltraDNS Corp., a San Mateo, California-based company that provides outsourced DNS services, Hernand said.
The 20 new TLDs became available for purchase at www.new.net early Monday and are being sold on a first-come-first-served basis, Hernand said. New.net has reached agreement with EarthLink Inc., Excite@Home Inc. and NetZero Inc. to ensure that the 16 million customers of those Internet service providers (ISPs) can reach the new TLDs.
The three ISPs have installed software that allows them to recognize New.net's TLDs, said Steve Chadima, chief marketing officer of New.net, which is also seeking to sign up the largest ISP, AOL Time Warner Inc. The ISPs don't complete DNS lookups, rather they send the request to New.net's DNS servers, which are maintained by UltraDNS.
Internet users who are not customers of the three ISPs have to download a plug-in from New.net's site to their browser to access the new TLDs. The software enables the browser to recognize the new TLDs and, without the user seeing it, adds .new.net to the end of a request for a Web site. The DNS server at the user's ISP views it as any other request for a .net TLD, Chadima said. From there, the request goes to the UltraDNS infrastructure.
"It's essentially living within the existing DNS to get to us, then we perform that final-phase lookup," Chadima said.
Chadima said ICANN's process has gotten bogged down because it attempts to make everyone happy, while New.net "doesn't feel at all constrained to make judgment calls."
However, it has appointed another company, .Kids Domains Inc. as the registry of the .kids TLD to ensure that the delicate issues surrounding content for children are treated accordingly, Chadima said. .Kids Domains last year submitted an application to ICANN to be the registry of that name, but was rejected.
ICANN's decision was based not on the technological competence of .Kids Domains, but on concerns that no consensus could be reached on what material should be excluded from the .kids name, according to Chadima.
As the registry of .kids, .Kids Domains will ensure that anyone who buys a .kids TLD will offer Web sites that contain kid-friendly content and comply with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, which among other things controls way that businesses can sell to and profit from children who use the Internet. Purchasers also will have to conduct a self-audit certifying that they have met certain standards.
The addition of .hola, .soc, .ltd and .gmbh are important for entities outside the U.S. who have long been neglected by the domain naming process, Hernand said. The .hola TLD will appeal to Spanish-speaking families, while .soc, .ltd and .gmbh provide more sensible naming system for non-U.S.-based businesses, Hernand said.
In addition, New.net's technology will allow the use of foreign-language characters in the domain name and extension, he said.
New.net also said it has signed a deal with MP3.com Inc. that makes it the exclusive registrar of .mp3 domain names. This will enable artists whose work is available at MP3.com to sign up for a Web address that includes their name and .mp3. All other TLDs can be sold by other registrars, Chadima said.
Although New.net said it wants to stay clear of ICANN, Chadima admitted the company is taking a calculated risk on what will happen if ICANN in the future decides to create TLDs that are identical to those it supports.
"If we get a vast majority of ISPs to turn on our TLDs, I think ICANN would be very hard pressed to say they were just going to release (their own TLDs) on top of them," Chadima said. "It would seem silly to take that confrontational approach."
Chadima added he planned to attend ICANN's meeting beginning March 9 in Melbourne, Australia.
New.net, based in Pasadena, California, can be reached at +1-626-229-7800 or found on the Web at http://www.new.net. ICANN, in Marina del Rey, California, can be reached at +1-310-823-9358, or http://www.icann.org/.