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March 28, 2005

Internet to get three new domains

The internet will very probably soon have three new top-level domains - .eu, .travel and .jobs - the Internet Corp for Assigned Names and Numbers has announced.

By CBR Staff Writer

ICANN last week authorized the delegation of .eu as a country-code domain (ccTLD), at the request of the European Union, after seven years of EU politicking.

EU-based organizations will be able to register their names under .eu from the fourth quarter of this year, via registrars that partner with EurID vzw, the Belgium-based company the EU has appointed as the .eu registry.

Currently, European domain owners can only register names under specific national ccTLDs, such as .uk or .de. The EU itself hosts its web site at www.eu.int, under the little-used TLD reserved for international treaty organizations.

The .eu domain will now be entered into the domain name system’s root server system. EurID plans to build out its channel and software until the fourth quarter, when it will operate a sunrise period for trademark holders to secure their .eu domains.

Having .eu in the root sets the green light for the launch of .eu EURid general manager, Marc Van Wesemael, said in a statement. Over the next few months we will be working very hard on the final preparations with the aim of launching the .eu sunrise period later this year.

The EU has been working on getting .eu up and running since at least 1998. The idea is to give companies an address that can reflect pan-European presence and help with cross-border trade within the union.

Multiple levels of EU legislative and executive approval were required. For most of that time, a willing ICANN has been twiddling its thumbs waiting, having approved the domain in principle in September 2000.

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Also late last week, ICANN said it is close to approving .jobs and .travel, two private ventures that were submitted as sponsored TLDs, or sTLDs, which can be used by members of certain classes of organization.

ICANN has completed negotiating contracts with Employ Media LLC, which wants to run .jobs, and with Tralliance Corp, which wants to run .travel. The ICANN board now needs to approve the deals, which will probably happen next week.

In both cases, the companies are sponsored by an industry association and plan to restrict their customer bases to a specific community of potential registrants supposedly underserved by existing domain names.

Tralliance plans to have a participating travel industry associations or authentication providers verifying that would-be registrants are legitimate entities in travel. The market is broadly defined to include everything from airlines to restaurants.

The .jobs domain is sponsored by the Society for Human Resource Management and will be restricted to persons engaged in human resource management practices. The criteria for being recognized as such are quite flexible.

But .jobs will be marketed as a domain that every company with an HR department needs. Employ Media gives exxon.jobs and sony.jobs as examples. On the web, the domains would point to hiring microsites within exxon.com and sony.com, it appears.

But for many firms, the introduction of two new TLDs will together be little more than another minor trademark protection headache to add to the thousands of protective registrations they already have to pay for every year.

Because there is some level of authentication, there will be a reduced risk of some chancer registering microsoft.jobs or disney.travel for a lark, so many firms may decide these new TLDs can be safely ignored.

Pricing is not yet available, but an indication may come from the fees that ICANN intends to levy on the two new registries – $2 per year for every domain registration, transfer or renewal that they log.

This compares to the $0.75 transactions charge ICANN plans to levy on the next .net registry operator, which translates to a wholesale registry price in the $6 range and retail prices ranging from $6 to $30.

These kinds of registry transaction fees are new and controversial. Some say that ICANN, which works under contract with the US Department of Commerce, is levying an unfair tax on domain name holders, though ICANN does not use those terms.

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