Thursday, November 8, 2001

Washington registry operator NeuLevel Inc. set off an Internet land rush yesterday.
NeuLevel activated 169,000 preregistered .biz domain names just after midnight yesterday and also began accepting registrations for new .biz addresses. Businesses scooped up Internet addresses with the new .biz domain name at a rate of 10 per second after registration began.
“We expect dot-biz to surpass dot-com,” said Douglas Armentrout, chief executive of NeuLevel, a joint venture of Sterling, Va., telecommunications database company NeuStar Inc. and Australian tech company Melbourne IT Ltd.
That could be optimistic because there are already 24 million .com addresses.
But introducing .biz did unleash pent-up demand for new domain names. Only two new domain names have been approved by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, a nonprofit started by President Clinton in 1998.
The .biz addresses follow the introduction of .info last month, the seldom-used suffix .int in 1988, and .com, .edu and .org in 1985.
NeuLevel was chosen last year by ICANN to manage the registration of new .biz addresses. ICANN hopes to relieve the overpopulation of .com by introducing new domain names.
Businesses for whom .biz is reserved did embrace .biz yesterday in what amounted to an Internet land rush. When NeuLevel began accepting registrations just after midnight, they received 10 applications each second.
“We’re very pleased to see [.biz] come out of the gate and come out of the gate so quickly,” said ICANN President and Chief Executive Stuart Lynn.
There will be as many as 1.5 million new .biz and .info addresses by the end of the year, predicts Todd Weller, Internet infrastructure analyst at Baltimore investment banker Legg Mason Wood Walker Inc.
Afilias Ltd., in Newtown, Pa., began registering .info addresses Oct. 1 and already has registered 500,000 new domain names.
Demand for .biz is being driven by companies that may not have gotten the .com address they wanted, he said. Other companies are simply staking a claim to an Internet address.
“I don’t see a company like AT&T dumping its dot-com address and moving everything to dot-biz because they’ve built brand recognition with dot-com. It would be tough to rebrand the new name. But companies are buying dot-biz to prevent others from getting the address they want,” said Ted Chamberlin, network analyst at Stamford, Conn., technology researcher Gartner Group.
More than 55 percent of registrations for .biz addresses have come from outside the United States, Mr. Armentrout said. Dot-com is a U.S. phenomenon, but .biz appears to have worldwide appeal, he said.
NeuLevel will make $5.30 a year on each new .biz domain name registered. ICANN gave it a five-year contract to maintain the database of .biz addresses.
NeuLevel delayed the start of service twice, in part because of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
The company also has been slowed by legal trouble. A lawsuit filed in California argues NeuLevel used what amounted to an illegal lottery during its preregistration period. The preregistration period was intended for trademark holders only and attempted to figure out which company would be awarded a disputed .biz domain name.
That legal dispute remains unresolved.

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