'Dot Name' Joins The Game

graphic for .name, new top level domain name ending
The first Internet address suffixes created exclusively for individuals on Tuesday join the familiar ".com" and ".org" domain names.

Currently, Internet users with personal Web sites tend to use ".org," which is commonly associated with nonprofits.

Operators of ".name" are hoping individuals will be lured by e-mail and Web addresses featuring their own names.

CBS News Computer Consultant Larry Magid says many individuals will appreciate the advantages of having their own web address, which if renewed regularly, could be theirs for life.

"It's not only an identity that makes it easy for people to find you, but you don't lose it if you change ISPs," notes Magid. "It's kind of like having a phone number for the rest of your life, but it's a vanity phone number based on your own name."

The London-based Global Name Registry, which in 2000 proposed and won rights to administer the suffix, is also exploring expanding ".name" to mobile phones and other personal devices later this year.

"We think the personal space is in its infancy," said Andrew Tsai, the registry's chief executive.

The ".name" suffix was one of seven approved in November 2000 by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, an Internet oversight body. They are the first major additions to the domain name system since its creation in the mid-1980s.

The new names were approved to help relieve domain name overcrowding. Registration of ".com," ".net" and ".org" names more than tripled in 2000, ending the year at 28.2 million.

But tackling the details of actually creating the new suffixes took much longer than expected. In the meantime, the Internet economy slid, and names lost much of their speculative value.

Total domain name registrations increased only slightly in 2001, a 13.5 percent jump to 32 million as of September.

Ross Stevens of New York got ".name" addresses for himself, his wife and a 6-month-old daughter. He plans to set up a Web page with baby pictures and to use ".name" for lifetime e-mail addresses.

The service costs about $30 a year for both e-mail and Web addresses. The fee is for the name only; the user still would have to set up an e-mail account or buy Web space from an Internet service provider.

Two other suffixes, ".biz" for businesses and ".info" for informational sites, debuted last fall, with more than 1.2 million names registered combined.

In addition, ".museum" began operating in November on a provisional basis, meaning assigned names may still change, and ".coop" for business cooperatives became active Jan. 9. A few thousand names have been requested under each.

Debuting later this year are ".aero" for aviation and ".pro" for professionals.

The Global Name Registry began allowing pre-registrations in earnest last month for ".name" suffixes. For duplicate names requested as of Dec. 17, one was selected at random. The first batch of 60,000 names is being activated Tuesday.

Additional rounds wil be activated every two weeks or less until "live" registration begins in mid-May.

Tsai said the slow rollout should help the ".name" registry avoid some of the troubles that ".biz" and ".info" faced.

The ".info" registry failed to block some bogus trademark claims, while the ".biz" operators were hit with a lawsuit charging that their procedures amounted to an illegal lottery. Both ".info" and ".biz" changed their procedures to address the concerns.

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