VeriSign Faces Four Contenders for .Net

The bids to manage the Internet's third-largest domain come not only from VeriSign and three previously anticipated entrants, but also from a lesser-known consortium of domain operators and registrars.

Four competitors are officially vying to wrest the management of the .net domain away from VeriSign Inc.

ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, confirmed Wednesday that it had received five applications from companies wanting to run .net, the Internets third most-popular domain. The submissions had been due by the end of Tuesday.

One surprise in the submissions was an application from a little-publicized consortium calling itself the CORE++ Association. According to its Web site, the consortium comprises partners representing 16 countries and is based in Barcelona, Spain.

Those backing the consortium include telecommunications company Telefonica Group; CORE, an association of registrars and registries that runs back-end services for the .aero and .museum domains; the Internet Systems Consortium Inc.; the National Internet Development Agency of Korea, which manages the .kr country code; a division of the Brazilian Internet Steering Committee called NICBR; and the .za DNA (Domain Name Authority) in South Africa.

As reported earlier, VeriSign is bidding to maintain its .net registry role. VeriSign, of Mountain View, Calif., gained control of .net in 2000 when it acquired Network Solutions Inc., and Network Solutions had run the domain since 1992.

The other contenders include a German nonprofit, DENIC eG, which manages the worlds most-popular country code, Germanys .de. Also in the running are Afilias Ltd. and NeuLevel Inc., two registries that run the generic domain names .info and .biz, respectively.

NeuLevel is proposing to manage .net in a joint venture with Japan Registry Services Co. Ltd., which operates Japans .jp country code. The venture is being called Sentan Registry Services Inc., and NeuLevel would act as the major provider of technical services for Sentan, NeuLevel announced.

VeriSigns contract to run .net ends June 30, and ICANN plans to choose a .net operator in March. ICANN expects to post the public portions of the .net bids to its Web site later this week, a spokesman said.

ICANN also plans to pick an outside auditing or consulting firm to manage the evaluation of the submissions, largely to avoid an appearance of a conflict of interest. VeriSign and ICANN are embroiled in a legal dispute, in which VeriSign is accusing the domain-name overseer of overstepping its role as a technical body.


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