Domain name registration co. ready for rivals

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About to lose its monopoly on domain name registration, Network Solutions, Herndon, Va., is introducing WorldNIC (network information center), a suite of online registration services, and is supporting it with a $5 million to $10 million ad campaign.

WorldNIC, which will be introduced in stages beginning in January, is aimed at non-technology and small businesses. The campaign, which launched Dec. 1 and was developed by U.S. Interactive, New York, is Network Solutions' first ad campaign.

SWITCHING TO A MARKET FOCUS

"It's an indication of our transfer from a technical focus to a market focus," said Ben Turner, senior product manager of WorldNIC.

"[WorldNIC] is an easy process for businesses [to use] to secure their domain name and get an online identity, even if they don't have a Web site or e-mail," he added. Network Solutions has not announced pricing for WorldNIC. Currently, it charges companies $100 to register a domain name.

Since 1993, Network Solutions has been the exclusive registration service for Internet domain names that use .com, .edu, .net and .org suffixes, under a contract with the National Science Foundation, the government agency that oversees the Internet.

But in March, the company's five-year contract is due to expire, clearing the way for competitors to enter the field.

Already, other companies have gotten involved in domain registration, offering services aimed at subsegments of the market. American Convergent Technologies, New York, for example, has set up a Web site where companies can register "community based" domain names for a one-time fee of approximately $75.

UNIQUE ADDRESSES

Using the .us addressing domain, which is administered by the Information Sciences Institute, companies can include the state and city where a business is located in their domain names, as demonstrated by the use of NYC and NY in ACT's domain name.

".com doesn't tell you anything about where a business does business," said Nick Reisini, principal at ACT. "The .us domain gives you a unique address, just like a home or business address," he said.

Meanwhile, Internet Domain Names, a Houston-based company, registers domain names for companies in foreign countries. The company has built a database of all the requirements for registering a domain name in the more than 190 countries that require registration.

For a fee of $249, plus any registry fee the country charges, Internet Domain Names acts as an agent for a company wherever it wants to secure a domain name.

Network Solutions' new ad campaign, which carries the tagline "Make a name for yourself," is an attempt to leverage the company's experience in the business and expand its scope into more traditional marketing areas.

Teaser ads will run through mid-January in trade publications as well as in Business Week, Forbes, Fortune and The Wall Street Journal. They will be followed by ads that will include WorldNIC's Web site as well as an 800-number for companies lacking Internet access.

Copyright December 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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