Afilias is focusing on its experience in transitioning a domain name from one registry to another. It manages the back-end technology for the .org domain on behalf of the Public Interest Registry. Management of the .org domain was transferred from VeriSign to the Public Interest Registry in early 2003 after ICANN went through a registry selection process. The Internet Society won the bid for .org and formed the nonprofit Public Interest Registry to oversee the domain. The openings of .org and .net to new registries resulted from the last registry agreement between ICANN and VeriSign. As part of that agreement in 2001, VeriSign retained the right to continue renewing its .com management in exchange for opening .org and .net to competitors.Afilias spokeswoman Heather Carle said the Dublin, Ireland, company improved the technology behind .org with the transition, centralizing records once distributed among registrars and shortening delay from when a .org name is registered to availability in the registry database."We dont think the status quo is acceptable and think that .net could benefit from the enhanced technology that Afilias would bring," Carle said. Along with .org and .info, Afilias provides registry services for seven country codes. For its part, NeuStar is touting its background in directory services extending beyond being the registry for 2.1 million names in the .biz and the .us domains. NeuStar, of Sterling, Va., also manages the North American Numbering Plan, the telephone number directory system that matches callers. "We manage a lot more electronic addresses than anyone else, including VeriSign, because we manage all the telephone numbers in North Americamore than a billion numbers," said NeuStar spokeswoman Sue Cushing. While competitors are preparing for the bid battle, VeriSign has been garnering support from some of the technology industrys heavy hitters. Microsoft Corp., Sun Microsystems Inc. and IBM were among the companies that sent letters to ICANN in support of VeriSigns .net management. Yet VeriSign and ICANN have a rocky relationship. VeriSign earlier this year sued ICANN in a challenge to the nonprofits authority to regulate the types of service that a domain registry can offer. VeriSign accuses ICANN of exceeding its role as a technical body by blocking new services such as VeriSigns controversial SiteFinder redirection service. The original case was thrown out of federal court, but VeriSign has continued litigation in a California state court. With the litigation in the backdrop, ICANN officials have vowed to use an independent third party, such as an accounting firm, to review and evaluate the applications. VeriSign has supported that move. ICANNs board, though, still would make the final selection decision. "We want to ensure that the world has confidence that the decision-making process is entirely unbiased," ICANN president and CEO Paul Twomey said. "The mere fact that someone had a lawsuit doesnt affect this decision at all, [but] its important to have an independent third party involved in the process." Twomey declined to specify whether the ICANN board made any significant changes to the proposed process for selecting a .net registry. The approved request for proposal, which he said would be posted on ICANNs Web site earlier this week, had yet to become publicly available as of Wednesday. None of the registries has yet submitted applications, which are due by Jan. 18. VeriSigns .net contract expires at the end of June, and ICANN expects to announce a .net successor in March in order to make any switchover in July. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on servers, switches and networking protocols for the enterprise and small businesses.