Insider rings domain name warning

Rushed testing for the global Shared Registration System (SRS) for domain names may result in a system unable to cope with increasing demand for domain names.

One insider believes an extension of the testing schedule is vital to ensure the system can handle increasing competition.

Clive Flory, general manager of Internet Names Worldwide, a subsidiary test bed registrar of Melbourne IT, said: "ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) is trying to rush it because it has a certain political agenda to meet, and the other registrars are trying to rush it because they don't have the experience in the business.

"At the moment if you open the gates [to more competition] early you will not have done due diligence," Flory said.

"It really needs to be thoroughly tested. I can't stress that enough."

The SRS, designed to enable competition in the registration of .net, .org, and .com domain names, ends the monopoly that Network Solutions Inc has enjoyed in the domain name registration market.

Five test bed registrars -- Melbourne IT, the Internet Council of Registrars, France Telecom/Oleane, Register.com and America Online -- will be the first domain name registrars to compete against NSI.

Once testing of the SRS is complete, the system will be open to other operators who want to compete in the newly liberalised domain name market.

Testing of the SRS is currently scheduled to end on August 6, 1999, having already been extended by NSI at the request of the US Department of Commerce.

However, according to Flory two of the five test bed registrars' systems have not yet gone live.

He believes that NSI should set aside at least a month to test the SRS once all test bed registrars' systems have gone live, which should occur within about three weeks.

That would extend the testing deadline to early September 1999. As yet "the system hasn't really had the benefit of multiple registries doing complex things", Flory said.

"We see the registration process as like a utility. The last thing you want is for a utility like that to [crash] because you've had poor quality control, poor testing and poor maintenance," he said.

"It is really important that the five test bed registrars are allowed to do rigorous testing and are given time to do it."

Melbourne IT has gone live with key functionalities of its registration system, which is integrated with NSI's systems.

Additional functionality will be added within the next three weeks, Flory said.

He said that none of the registrars have yet completed systems development to allow customers to transfer from one registrar to another.

Flory said Melbourne IT is aiming to capture 20 per cent of the world market for registration of .com domain names within the next 18 months, offering its services through resellers around the world.

The company is preparing to offer registration of .co.uk domain names shortly, and plans to offer around 20, country-specific domain names eventually.

Meanwhile, although ICANN has withdrawn its plan to charge $US1 ($1.50) for each domain name registration, Melbourne IT will continue to pay the fee to ICANN.

"Somebody has to be involved in setting the policy and governance issues for the Internet . . . some regulatory body which is independent of any government and really is representative of people around the world who are involved in the Internet.

"At the moment ICANN is the only body that's been set up to do that . . . we just felt, why not support ICANN through the small fee," Flory said.

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More about America OnlineFrance TelecomICANNInternet Corporation for Assigned Names and NumbersInternet CouncilInternet Names WorldwideMelbourne ITRegister.com

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